Boston—Medicare Part D spending and out-of-pocket costs are increasing for older patients prescribed topical steroids, notes a new study published in JAMA Dermatology. The study led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers reports that Medicare Part D expenditures on topical steroids between 2011 and 2015 were $2.3 billion, with out-of-pocket spending of $333.7 million. Total annual spending increased from $237.6 million to $775.9 million, a jump of 226.5%, while patients’ annual out-of-pocket spending increased 45.9%. The total number of prescriptions, meanwhile, rose from 7.7 million in 2011 to 10.6 million in 2015, a 37% increase. Study authors calculated that, if the cheapest topical steroid within the corresponding potency class had been prescribed, the savings would have been $944.8 million and $66.6 million for Medicare Part D and patients, respectively.
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