New tool shows the drugs with the highest costs for Parts B and D

Medicare has created an online dashboard to show which drugs have the highest spending among Part B and Part D plans.

In the interest of transparency, CMS aims to make public the trends surrounding drug spending by Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries. They hope to start a discussion about the costs of drugs and how they could be changed.

If a drug ranks high for spending, cost increase or cost to users, it was considered for the dashboard. Overall, the dashboard represents a large portion of total spending by Medicare. The Part D drugs show 33% of overall spending. The Part B drugs show 71%.

Below are three Part D charts and information on the drugs included. See Part B charts on the online dashboard (link below).

Trends in Medicare Part D Total Spendingfor the Top 5 Drugs in 2014.


  • Abilify: treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and others.
    • Generic: Aripiprazole.
  • Advair Diskus: treats asthma and COPD.
    • Generic: None
  • Crestor: treats high cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides.
    • Generic: There is no generic version of Crestor, or Rosuvastatin Calcium. There are generic statin drugs, which are generic forms of other brand drugs, but no generic version of Rosuvastatin.
  • Nexium: treats GERD.
    • Generic: Esomeprazole Magnesium
  • Sovaldi: treats hepatitis C.
    • Generic: None





Annual Spending per User by Total Spending for Medicare Part D Drugs: 2014. 


  • Tracleer: treats pulmonary artery hypertension.
    • Generic: None
  • Gleevec: treats leukemia and other types of cancer.
    • Generic: Sales of the generic imatinib mesylate will begin in February. The drug was approved in December.
  • Olysio: treats hepatitis C.
    • Generic: None
  • Sovaldi: treats hepatitis C.
    • Generic: None
  • Copaxone: treats multiple sclerosis.
    • Generic: Glatopa
  • Humira: treats arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and others.
    • Generic: Adalimumab





Medicare Part D Drugs with Large Increases in Cost per Unit, 2013 to 2014.


  • Vimovo: PPI/ NSAID; treats arthritis, pain and other conditions.
    • Generic: Esomeprazole/ Naproxen
  • Captopril: ACE inhibitor; treats high blood pressure and kidney problems.
    • Generic: Already generic
  • Digoxin/ Digox: treats heart failure and heart rhythm disorders.
    • Generic: Digoxin; (Digox is a brand drug)
  • Prednisolone Acetate: treats eye conditions.
    • Generic: Already generic
  • Clobetasol Propionate: treats skin conditions.
    • Generic: Already generic

To see the online dashboard, click here.

To learn more about the online dashboard, see this article from the Washington Post.



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