The Costliest Drugs

The Costliest Drugs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published 23 million pieces of data to reveal the prescribing habits of over 1 million medical providers. The information covers more than $103 billion in drugs prescribed to 36 million people. This latest initiative to make this previously publicly unavailable information is being done in hopes to reduce program spending and uncover improper prescribing physicians.


The new data includes the cost of each claim, including both amounts paid by patient and the government, as well as supplementary insurance coverage a beneficiary had. Claims also include new prescriptions and refills. Additionally, the agency also highlighted patterns of ways physicians and other medical personnel prescribe drugs. Family doctors and internists prescribed the most, followed by nurses, neurologists and psychiatrists.


As one would assume, the brand name drugs are much more costly than the generics. The top 10 brand name drugs made up a list of the most expensive medicines, racking up 4.6 million claims resulting in costs of $18.78 billion. These branded pharmaceuticals accounted for nearly 5.5% of the total spending by Medicare Part D.drugs

The 10 prescription medicines Medicare paid for the often, all generic drugs, generated 306.6 million claims at a cost of $4.14 billion dollars in 2013.


Below are some interesting facts about the most popular and costly drugs:


  • Pharmaceuticals for respiratory ailments, depression, high cholesterol, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia and cancer made the list of costliest drugs.
  • Medicines to treat thyroid disorders, pain, diabetes, and heart disease rounded out the list of drugs with the most claims.
  • The drug with the highest number of Medicare billings: Lisinopril. Cost the program $8.33 per claim.
  • Medicare’s highest expense totaling $2.53 billion (and $308.37 per claim): Nexium, the heartburn treatment known as “the purple pill”. It became available as an over the counter-medicine last year.
  • Medicare spent more than $2 billion on three other prescription drugs: 2: AstraZeneca’s Crestor for high cholesterol.
  • 3: Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify for depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
  • 1: GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair Diskus for respiriatory illness.
  • Medicare paid 36.7 million in claims at a cost of $433.7 million for Simvastatin in 2013, making it the second-most prescribed drug in the program.

Here at SFG we understand that rising drug cost for Medicare Beneficiaries is a major concern. Our Licensed Career Agents can help you find the best Drug plan for you based on your needs, medications, and budget. To talk with one of our agents call us at 865-777-0153 or toll free at 1-800-677-0153.



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