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Over a recent seven-year period, Medicare Part D spending on inhalers used to control respiratory problems increased $2 billion, or a whopping 44%, as more people used the devices, according to a new study. However, a lack of lower-cost generic options has also allowed prices to remain high.

From 2012 to 2018, the federal health care program spent $39.7 billion — adjusted for inflation and discounts — on inhalers to help plan beneficiaries combat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. By 2018, the nine different classes of inhalers accounted for nearly 5% of roughly $120 billion in overall spending by the Part D plan after rebates and other discounts.

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  • Useful reminder: Drug spending = price * quantity

    Of course, Dr. Feldman only comments on generics and cost/inhaler, though 89% (!) of spending increase was due to utilization

  • When about 60 pct more users “use” 80 pct more inhalers, that would seem to justify the 44% in overall Medicare spending. That said, more ‘generics’ on the field would be nice.

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