The decrease was miniscule, but it was the first time since 1957 that the research firm IMS Health had recorded a dip in United States drug expenditures, reports The New York Times. In related news, more effective use of medications could lead to Medicare savings, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The New York Times: U.S. Drug Costs Dropped In 2012, But Rises Loom
Spending on prescription drugs nationwide has been slowing for years because of the increasingly widespread use of low-cost generics. But in 2012, something unheard-of happened: money spent on prescription drugs actually dropped (Thomas, 3/18).
The Medicare NewsGroup: Spend More, Save More: How Expanding Part D Could Pay Off For Medicare
Better use of medications can save money for Medicare by helping beneficiaries avoid some hospital and physician services, and growth in Part D activity is expected to shave $35 billion from Medicare's expected spending of $5.6 trillion between 2011 and 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The savings bolster the political argument for supporting Part D expansion at a time when politicians and health care experts worry about slowing the growth of the mammoth federal budget deficit. The CBO's proof of savings is new (Rosenblatt, 3/18).
In other news, The New York Times reports on calls to ensure that taxpayers benefit from government-subsidized research that helps to produce lucrative drugs -
The New York Times: Seeking Profit For Taxpayers In Potential Of New Drug
With automatic spending cuts cascading through the government, lawmakers are calling for a review of federal policies they say have allowed businesses to profit on government research with limited return for taxpayers or consumers. That re-examination could be particularly intense in federal science, once a corner of the government with bipartisan protection that has become something of an orphan caught between Republican efforts to protect the military and Democrats' defense of Social Security and Medicare. Now, advocates for creative new funding policies might have an example for their cause (Weisman, 3/18).
Finally, the Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett, a case that could impact the availability of generic drugs in the U.S.
Marketplace: Cheap Generic Drugs Face Possible Legal Liabilities
According to John Hertig, associate director of the Center for Medication Safety at Purdue University's College of Pharmacy, a generic drug and a brand name drug are chemically identical. "We are talking about medications that are intended to do the same thing," he says, and they can have the same adverse reactions. Later this morning, the Supreme Court hears arguments in Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett, a case that could have big implications on the availability of generic drugs in the U.S. (Gura, 3/19).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.