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CMS Updates Drug Price Dashboard to Improve Price Transparency

The Drug Pricing Dashboard will include price transparency information and highlight year-over-year changes in drug costs.

price transparency drug pricing

By Sara Heath

- CMS has updated its drug pricing dashboards to better reflect the price transparency ideals stated in President Trump’s recent address on drug pricing and out-of-pocket patient costs.

The updates will highlight year-over-year spending, allowing patients to identify which drug manufacturers are increasing their prices and at what rate. According to CMS, this move carries out the Administration’s goals to reduce patient financial responsibility for medications.

“Under President Trump’s bold leadership, CMS is committed to putting patients first and increasing transparency,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

“Publishing how much individual drugs cost from one year to the next will provide much-needed clarity and will empower patients and doctors with the information they need,” she continued. “As Secretary Azar has repeatedly pointed out, for years Medicare incentives have actually encouraged higher list prices for drugs, and this updated and enhanced dashboard is an important step to bringing transparency and accountability to what has been a largely hidden process.”

The updated dashboards are reportedly more interactive and aim to engage patients, providers, patient advocates, and other relevant stakeholders. They will highlight data for both Medicare and Medicaid drug prices and will note the percentage change in price each drug manufacturer reports.

A tool such as this is important to help the public make judicious decisions about which medications and prescription drugs it chooses, CMS stated. CMS spent 17 percent of its overall budget, which amounted to $109 billion, on prescription drugs in 2012. By 2016, the agency was spending nearly one-quarter (23 percent) on prescription drugs for patients. This totaled to $174 billion.

This increase in spending was not because patients were taking more prescription drugs, the agency suggested. Instead, CMS drug spending increases stemmed from increases in drug prices. Some of the most common prescription drugs used for Medicare Part B and D and Medicaid beneficiaries yielded double-digit price increases in the last few years.

CMS also released data about Medicaid Part D prescribing patterns to better facilitate research into drug price increases. The agency has updated the Part D Prescriber Public Use File to enable medical researchers to analyze prescription drug use and spending habits.

All of this reportedly aligns with the Administration’s recent remarks on increasing prescription drug prices, CMS stated. Late last week, President Trump gave an address about his efforts to reduce out-of-pocket spending for patients accessing prescription drugs.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States,” the President said in his speech. “That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”

The President announced upcoming reforms to the Medicare 340B program and Medicare Part D. He also called on prescription drug manufacturers to post their medication costs, creating better price transparency for patients.

Supporters maintain that these efforts will put the patient at the center of care and reduce their out-of-pocket spending. Critics say the speech was relatively toothless and lacked substantial plans for addressing high patient financial responsibility.

In conjunction with the President’s speech, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a blueprint of the Administration’s plans to reduce prescription drug spending. Calls for more price transparency, better availability of biosimilars, and more patient education about drug spending were proposed as solutions to this problem.

“American patients have the right to know what their prescription drugs will really cost before they get to the pharmacy or get the drug,” HHS said in the report. “Too many people abandon their prescriptions at the pharmacy when they discover the price is too high, and too many patients are never informed of lower cost options.”

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