CMS unveils new way to explore prescription drug spending

CMS has created an online dashboard to allow the public and policymakers to examine Medicare prescription drug spending, utilization and trend data.

The interactive tool can be used to look at the overall spending for 80 high-cost prescription drugs. Prescription drugs were chosen for the list if they were among the top 15 in spending for either Medicare Part B or Part D, had a high level of per-patient spending or had the greatest price increases.

The dashboard shows Medicare expenditures were highest in 2014 for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which made headlines after it hit the market with a $1,000-per-pill price tag. Total spending on Sovaldi was $3.1 billion last year.

Spending growth on prescription drugs has emerged as a primary concern for healthcare providers and consumers alike as growth rates continue to surge. Prescription drug spending represented 9.8 percent of overall health spending in 2014 and is projected to hit 10.1 percent in 2015 and 10.4 percent by 2024, according to a report by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The new CMS dashboard can be accessed here.

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