Study shows Brand-Name Drugs’ High Copays Stick it to Medicare Part D Patients

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2016 | Uncategorized

A new study takes a fresh measure of generic drugs’ price advantages, revealing how much more Medicare Part D patients shelled out in co-payments for two popular brand-name drugs in 2013.
The result: 10.5 times more.
Copayments averaged $42 for both Crestor, a cholesterol medication, and Nexium, taken for acid reflux, according to researchers whose study was published in Health Affairs.
The consumers’ cost for generic therapeutic equivalents was $4, they said.
In 2013, the top 10 drugs in Part D, ranked by claims, were all generics, accounting for $4.1 billion in expenses. But ranked by total spending, the top 10 most expensive drugs were all brand names, representing $19.8 billion in spending, CMS said. Nexium was No. 1 — at $2.5 billion — and Crestor was No. 3 at $2.3 billion.
Had generic equivalents been prescribed in 2013 instead, the government, patients and insurance companies could have saved a combined $870 million for omeprazole in place of Nexium and $1.2 billion for atorvastatin instead of Crestor, researchers estimated. Dr. Nicole Gastala, the study’s lead author, said certain aspects of medical culture steer patients toward brand-name drugs.
Patients are frequently biased toward brand names by the power of advertising, and doctors’ interactions with pharmaceutical representatives have the same effect on them, said Gastala, who practices family medicine in Iowa and was a former visiting scholar at the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.
The cost of a drug is often unknown to both patients and doctors and physicians may have no idea how expensive a copay is.  When doctors prescribe a brand-name, patients rarely second-guess the choice, Gastala said.
Read about this at  in an article written by Rachel Bluth at Kaiser Health news.
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