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Spending on Topical Steroids Up From 2011 to 2015

During study time period, generic medication costs accounted for 97.8 percent of total spending

skin cream

MONDAY, May 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- From 2011 to 2015 there was an increase in annual spending and out-of-pocket spending on topical steroids, according to a study published online April 28 in JAMA Dermatology.

Hannah Song, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cost analysis of the Medicare Part D Prescriber Public Use File to characterize Medicare and patient out-of-pocket costs for topical steroids.

The researchers found that between 2011 and 2015, Medicare Part D expenditures on topical steroids were $2.3 billion. Over the same period, patients' out-of-pocket spending for topical steroids was $333.7 million. There was a 226.5 percent increase in total annual spending, from $237.6 million to $775.9 million. There was a 145.9 percent increase in patients' annual out-of-pocket spending, from $41.4 million to $101.8 million. The total number of prescriptions increased 37.0 percent, from 7.7 million in 2011 to 10.6 million in 2015. During this time period, generic medication costs accounted for 97.8 percent of total spending.

"The potential health care savings and out-of-pocket patient savings from substitution of the cheapest topical steroid within the corresponding potency class were $944.8 million and $66.6 million, respectively," the authors write.

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