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Over a recent 10-year period, rising prices for multiple sclerosis drugs caused Medicare spending for these medicines to increase more than 10 times, and Part D beneficiaries saw their out-of-pocket costs increase more than sevenfold, according to a new study.

Specifically, spending on multiple sclerosis drugs per 1,000 beneficiaries by the health program jumped from nearly $7,800 in 2006 to more than $79,400 in 2016. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket patient spending per 1,000 beneficiaries rose from $372 to nearly $2,700 for patients with multiple sclerosis during that same period of time. And the annual cost of treatment for those patients climbed from about $18,600 to almost $75,900, or 12.8% a year, according to the analysis in JAMA Neurology.


Significantly, the researchers noted the out-of-pocket spending rose sharply despite any rebates or other discounts offered by drug makers. And they maintained the findings challenge the argument that price breaks may help dampen the effect that rising list prices — or high list prices for newly launched multiple sclerosis drugs — may have on patients.

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  • Ed, Why don’t we reach out to the PBM’s and ask them for a breakdown as to where this money
    is going . Are there rebates on these drugs? If so why isn’t the patient getting the benefit of these rebates?
    It’s so obvious as to what’s going on here. And president Trump “Pulled the plug on looking into the Drug Rebates”. What a joke !!!!!

    • Hi Jeff
      The rebates apparently would not have affected out of pocket spending, since these were not passed on to patients, according to the researchers.
      But yes, it would be helpful to have the rebate data for each drug so taxpayers can see what Medicare does pay for each product.
      ed at pharmalot

  • Yawn. Another misleading study of brand-name list prices before rebates. Just because data are readily available doesn’t mean they are reliable indicators of true market dynamics. Rebates are huge in this class. That’s why generic version of Copaxone is not covered on many Part D formularies, in favor of the high list/high rebate brand.

    BTW, according to Express Scripts’ latest drug trend report, unit costs after rebates for MS drugs **decreased** by -7.8% in 2018 for Medicare plans.

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