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.