PHARMACY

Study finds rise in medical, prescription spending amid recession

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Consumers paid more for prescriptions as the country’s economy recovered from the recession, according to a new study.

According to the study, conducted by researchers at the Health Care Cost Institute and published in this month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs, per-person spending on prescriptions rose by 3.3% between 2007 and 2011. The study was based on analysis of spending by 40 million people for each year studied, using data provided by health insurers Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

Overall, spending per person on prescriptions and medical care rose by 4.9%, faster than the economy. The amount that consumers paid out of pocket for prescription drugs and devices remained the same during the study period as insurers covered a larger portion of prescription costs.

"Overall, spending growth may have slowed down after the recession, but consumers, employers and insurers have had different experiences," lead study author and HCCI research director Carolina Herrera said. "After the recession, consumers didn’t see their out-of-pocket medical spending groth slow, but medical spending growth for employers and health plans did slow."

 

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FDA approves Pfizer drug for hot flashes

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for hot flashes and the prevention of osteoporosis, the agency said.

The FDA announced the approval of Duavee (conjugated estrogens; bazedoxifene), made by Pfizer. The drug is for women who suffer from moderate to severe hot flashes associated with menopause, and is also designed to prevent osteoporosis after menopause.

The drug is the first approved by the agency that combines estrogen with an estrogen agonist or antagonist, in this case bazedoxifene, which is designed to reduce the risk of excessive growth of the lining of the uterus, also known as endometrial hyperplasia, which can occur from estrogen. The drug is only meant for postmenopausal women who still have a uterus.

 

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WSJ: ACA to eat up Medicare Part D’s doughnut hole by 2020

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Next year, the share of brand-name drugs paid by Medicare Part D beneficiaries will drop to 47.5%. The share of generics will drop to 72%, according to a report published Monday in The Wall Street Journal.

And by 2020, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have bridged the gap between what has commonly been referred to as the doughnut hole altogether — seniors will continue to cover only 25% of the cost of either brand-name medicines or generic medicines. 

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which had a rocky launch last week, Medicare beneficiaries will see that gap shrink again in 2014 and in each year until 2020, according to Medicare.gov," The Wall Street Journal reported.

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