Skin cream costs vary based on prescribing provider, study finds

Skin creams and ointments prescribed by dermatologists cost more than those prescribed by a family medicine or primary care physician, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

For the study, researchers assessed prescription data using CMS 2008 and 2010 Prescription Drug Public Use Profiles, which contain all drug claims made by Medicare beneficiaries.

They found prescriptions for low, medium and high-potency topical immunomodulators — or prescription skin creams — from specialists like dermatologists cost more than those from family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry or neurology physicians.

The total cost for a 30-day supply from a specialist cost anywhere from $7.36 to $14.57 more than those from family or internal medicine physicians, according to the study.

Overall patient costs were $1.69 to $3.16 higher for specialists.

Specialists prescribed brand name medications 8 percent of the time, while nonspecialists prescribed them only 1.4 to 3.1 percent of the time. A 30-day supply of brand name prescriptions cost an average of $174.02 more than generics, according to the study.

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