HealthDay News — From 2011 to 2015 there was an increase in annual spending and out-of-pocket spending on topical steroids, according to a study published online April 28 in JAMA Dermatology.

Hannah Song, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cost analysis of the Medicare Part D Prescriber Public Use File to characterize Medicare and patient out-of-pocket costs for topical steroids. 

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The researchers found that between 2011 and 2015, Medicare Part D expenditures on topical steroids were $2.3 billion. Over the same period, patients’ out-of-pocket spending for topical steroids was $333.7 million. There was a 226.5% increase in total annual spending, from $237.6 million to $775.9 million. There was a 145.9% increase in patients’ annual out-of-pocket spending, from $41.4 million to $101.8 million. The total number of prescriptions increased 37.0%, from 7.7 million in 2011 to 10.6 million in 2015. During this time period, generic medication costs accounted for 97.8% of total spending.

“The potential health care savings and out-of-pocket patient savings from substitution of the cheapest topical steroid within the corresponding potency class were $944.8 million and $66.6 million, respectively,” the authors write.

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