Drug Costs

CMS Updates Drug Dashboards

In March 2019, CMS announced that it updated the Drug Spending Dashboards with data for 2017. The drug dashboards include information on the manufacturers that are responsible for price increases, as well as pricing and spending data for thousands of drugs across Medicare Parts B and D and Medicaid.  The dashboards focus on average spending per dosage unit and track the change in average spending per dose over time. Drugs with little to no competition can be found by sorting for drugs with few manufacturers.  Information is also provided on drug uses and clinical indications, so patients and physicians can compare the list prices of different medications for a given condition. Information is presented in an interactive web-based tool, so users can easily sort the data to identify trends.

For example, in 2017 Medicare spent $262 million for Abilify Maintena, averaging $13,387 for the drug per beneficiary.  Bacitracin had the second highest annual growth rate at 345% in average spending per dose from 2013 to 2017.  Medicare spent over $3 billion on Eliquis in 2017 for over 1 million beneficiaries and spent over $1 million per beneficiary for two drugs, Strensiq and Vimizim.  There was only one manufacturer for the top 38 drugs in terms highest average spending per beneficiary, and only two of those had significant average decreases in average spending per dose.

The dashboards complement other CMS efforts to increase transparency on drug prices, including recent proposals to require prescription drug manufacturers to include list prices in television advertisements and proposals to implement legislation to end pharmacy gag clauses. In 2017, total gross spending on prescription drugs was $154.9 billion in Medicare Part D, $30.4 billion in Part B, and $67.6 billion in Medicaid.

The CMS Drug Spending Dashboards can be viewed here.

Prescription Drug Price Gouging

Now that Maryland’s first-in-the-nation prescription drug price gouging law is in place, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative is taking steps to be sure that those who might have been victims know there’s a place to be heard.  If you or someone you know takes a prescription drug that has seen unjustifiable price increases, let them know here.  They will pass along stories to the Office of the Attorney General to take action when appropriate.