In 2008, Medicare spent nearly $2.4 billion dollars on Lipitor and over $2.3 billion on Plavix. Medicare tracks how much money is spent on drugs purchased through Part D drug plans, and the chart below is from the Medicare website.
|Drug Name||Drug Cost||Drug Fills||Drug Users|
|ADVAIR DISKUS||$ 1,213,298,009||5,507,752||1,278,663|
According to Medicare data, more money is spent each year on drugs that treat cholesterol problems than any other class of drugs, at a total cost of over $6 billion. Antipsychotic drug spending is next, at around $5.6 billion, followed by drugs for diabetes at $4.68 billion. Medication for high blood pressure comes in fifth with just over $4 billion in cost.
Total drug spending by Medicare in 2008 was $68.3 billion, with 75% of that spent on brand name drugs rather than generics. With brand name drugs costing ten times more than generics, one can see the importance of moving to lower cost drugs for both the Medicare budget and individuals’ budgets.
Medicare subsidizes 75% of the cost of Part D plans, while monthly premiums paid by enrollees cover the remaining 25%. Part D plans are offered through insurance companies which are paid, on average $720 each year per enrollee, and $2,159 each year for people who get help with their drug costs (Low Income Subsidy). Insurance companies also receive more money for high cost enrollees through “risk adjusted payments”. Employers who offer drug coverage for their retirees receive, on average, $646 each year from Medicare. This information comes from kff.org October 2010 fact sheet: http://kff.org/medicare/7044.cfm
The Medicare“dashboard” with Part D drug information allows for a search by state. In Arizona, just over $1 billion was spent on drugs by Medicare in 2008, with nearly $98 million spent on cholesterol drugs. Over $68 million was spent on drugs to treat diabetes for 98,000 people in Arizona.