58% of Medicare drug spending goes toward highly advertised meds, GAO finds

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Fifty-eight percent of the $560 billion Medicare Parts B and D and their beneficiaries spent on drugs from 2016 through 2018 went toward drugs that were advertised to consumers, the Government Accountability Office stated in a report.

Medicare and its beneficiaries spent $324 billion on drugs that were advertised to consumers from 2016 through 2018. 

For Medicare Part D, seven of the 25 drugs that garnered the highest spending were also among the top 25 drugs with the highest consumer advertising spending. For Medicare Part B, there were two drugs that fit into both groups.

Among the top 10 drugs with the highest Medicare Parts B or D expenditures, four were also among the top 10 drugs for advertising spending in 2018: Bristol Myers Squibb's Eliquis, AbbVie's Humira, Merck's Keytruda and Pfizer's Lyrica.

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