WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the price of specialty drugs explodes, more and more Americans are going without the prescriptions they need, data from two new government reports show. According to the Congressional Budget Office, net spending on speciality drugs in Medicare Part D increased by more than 275 percent — from $8.7 billion to $32.8 billion — over a recent five year period. Meanwhile, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows one in 10 Americans are rationing medication. The uninsured are more vulnerable to egregious hikes, with one-third reporting rationing medication in response to high drug prices.
Specialty drugs — expensive medications that treat serious and life-threatening conditions like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis — are driving the spending, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows. Specialty drugs introduced after 2015 are driving the trend; in Medicare Part D, the drugs accounted for nearly one-third of net spending but less than 1 percent of all prescriptions.
The statistics only tell part of the story.
Ohio resident Bob Fowler, 68, has private insurance today and has delayed his retirement while battling cancer to avoid paying the king’s ransom in cost sharing he’d owe under Medicare Part D for his multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid.
“I want to live many more years in spite of my blood cancer,” Fowler said. “To have a shot at that, I need two things: life-saving drugs at an affordable price.”
CBO and CDC KEY FINDINGS:
Taxpayer spending on specialty prescription drugs has exploded.
Patient out-of-pocket costs soared in Medicare, but less so in Medicaid.
In response to soaring prices, patients are going without their medications.