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Two mental health drugs make Medicare’s top 5

May 1, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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Medicare has released cost and claims data for its prescription drug program for seniors. Among medical specialties, psychiatrists prescribed the most expensive drugs, averaging $104 for a prescription or refill, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average cost of all prescriptions or refills was $75.

Two brand drugs in the purview of psychiatrists made the top five list of most costly drugs for the Medicare program:

  • Abilify (aripiprazole), an antipsychotic medicine used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder;
  • Cymbalta (Duloxetine), a drug used to treat depression, anxiety, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or chronic muscle or bone pain.

However, the data does not present a complete picture of all physician prescribing as it only includes prescription drugs for 36 million beneficiaries who are signed up for Medicare’s Part D program. It does not include claims for privately insured patients or Medicaid.