Medicare Part D Drug Spending Grew 17 Percent in 2014, CMS Data Shows - California Drug Price Relief


Spending on prescription drugs in Medicare Part D increased 17 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to new data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Drug costs in the program grew from $104 billion to $121 billion between 2013 and 2014, the data shows. The data set is compiled from drugs paid for by Medicare Part D, including 38 million beneficiaries. That’s about 70 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. The data comes from claims from more than 1 million providers.

“With this data release, patients, researchers and providers can access valuable information about the Medicare prescription drug program,” Niall Brennan, CMS’s chief data officer said in a release. “Today’s release joins a series of actions the Administration is taking to improve transparency around government data, including the cost of prescription drugs.”

The data shows that Lisinopril, a drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, was the most commonly used drug, according to the 38,278,860 total claims submitted. In total, $281,614,340 was spent on the drug, according to the data.

But according to total drug cost, Sovaldi, a drug used to treat hepatitis C, was the most expensive, with $3,106,589,192 spent on the drug. Comparatively, just 109,543 claims were submitted for Sovaldi.

Gilead, the maker of Sovaldi, has come under scrutiny for the drug’s high cost. A Senate Finance Committee report released last year showed that Gilead knew the drug’s cost was high.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry group representing pharmaceutical companies, shot back on CMS’ data though, calling it “misleading.” Part D spending was $65 billion in 2014, PhRMA said, citing the Congressional Budget Office.

“The data exclude the substantial discounts and rebates negotiated directly between manufacturers and Part D plans to deliver value to beneficiaries,” spokeswoman Allyson Funk said in a statement. “Exclusion of these discounts and rebates — which have increased each year of the program according to the Medicare Trustees — paints a misleading picture about the Part D program.”