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Abilify, duloxetine rank on Medicare cost list

December 22, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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Two of the top 15 most costly drugs for Medicare in 2014, according to newly released data, were Abilify (aripiprazole), which is an antipsychotic, and generic Cymbalta (duloxetine HCI), which is typically used as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety drug.

As part of its effort to address the affordability of prescription drugs, the federal health agency released a new online dashboard to look at Medicare prescription drugs. For all drugs included, the interactive tool displays relevant spending, utilization and trend data.

Abilify spending in 2014 topped $2.5 billion and demonstrated a 17 percent unit-cost increase over the previous year. Duloxetine HCI spending was more than $1.4 billion, but showed a unit-cost decrease of 20 percent.

Not surprisingly, the top drug in terms of total spending was Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) which is used to treat hepatitis C. Spending per person equaled $94,056 and total cost to Medicare was more than $3.1 billion. By comparison, the next highest drug on the spending list was Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium) for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and that drug represented per person costs of just $1,892.