by Jinghong Chen

Increases in rebates for brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D substantially reduced the growth in reimbursement for those drugs from 2011 to 2015, but not enough to prevent an overall spending increase, according to a new analysis by the HHS Office of Inspector General. Medicare Part D spent an additional $2 billion for more than 1,500 brand-name drugs with rebates in 2015 than it spent four years earlier, even though the total number of prescriptions for brand-name medications reviewed decreased 33%. Over the same period, total rebates for drugs reviewed grew from $9 billion to $17 billion, whereas 42% of medications reviewed saw decreases in unit rebates. By analyzing spending on drugs with Part D reimbursement and rebates in every year from 2011 to 2015, the report found that although unit reimbursement increased for more than 95% of the drugs, unit rebates declined for 39% of those medications. In addition, unit rebates as a percentage of unit reimbursement dropped for over 50% of the drugs reviewed.

NOTE: Percentages do not sum to 100 because of rounding.

SOURCE: “Rebates for Brand-Name Drugs in Part D Substantially Reduced the Growth in Spending from 2011 to 2015,” Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Visit