Facts and Figures - November 2013

The average Medicare Part D patient filled 49 standardized 30-day prescriptions in 2010, according to research by the Dartmouth Atlas Project. At the high end, patients in Miami filled an average of 63 prescriptions, compared to patients in Grand Junction, Col., who filled 39 prescriptions per year. Other high-use regions included Lexington, Ky., (59 prescriptions) and Huntington, W.Va., (58), compared to low-use regions in Albuquerque, N.M., (40) and San Mateo County, Calif. (41).

Nearly eight in 10 heart attack survivors (78.5 percent) filled at least one prescription for a beta blocker in the seven to 12 months following a hospital discharge in 2008 or 2009. The results ranged from San Angelo, Texas, (91.4 percent) to Salem, Ore. (62.5 percent). The pattern of statin use after a heart attack was similar to that of beta blocker use, with 72 percent of heart attack survivors filling a statin prescription in the second six months after leaving the hospital. The results for statin use ranged from a high in Ogden, Utah, (91.3 percent) to a low in Abilene, Texas (44.3 percent).

NCQA recommends that survivors of a fracture resulting from osteoporosis should receive drugs that reduce the risk of subsequent fractures. However, only 14.3 percent of fragility fracture survivors received a drug to combat osteoporosis within six months of their fracture. The use of osteoporosis drugs across regions ranged from Honolulu, Hawaii, (28 percent) to Newark, N.J. (6.8 percent).

More than one in four Medicare Part D beneficiaries (26.6 percent) filled at least one prescription in 2010 for medications that have been identified as high-risk for patients over age 65, such as skeletal muscle relaxants, long-acting benzodiazepines, and highly sedating antihistamines. Patients in Alexandria, La., (43 percent) were more than three times as likely to receive at least one high-risk medication as patients in Rochester, Minn. (14 percent). More than 6 percent of Medicare patients filled a prescription for two or more different high-risk medications.

Spending on prescriptions by the Part D drug plans and their patients totaled $2,670 per beneficiary. Spending varied nearly threefold across regions, with a $2,968 difference between the lowest-spending region — St. Cloud, Minn. ($1,770) — and the highest spending region, Miami ($4,738).

Overall, 26.3 percent of prescriptions were filled as a brand-name product in 2010. Patients in Manhattan (36 percent) were more than twice as likely to fill a prescription for a brand-name product than patients in La Crosse, Wis. (16.5 percent).

Posted: December 2013

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