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Out-of-Pocket Costs for Neurologic Meds Have Increased

THURSDAY, May 2, 2019 -- From 2004 to 2016, there was a considerable increase in out-of-pocket costs for neurologic medications, especially for those in high-deductible health plans, according to a study published online May 1 in Neurology.

Brian C. Callaghan, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used a large, privately insured health care claims database from 2004 to 2016 to capture out-of-pocket costs for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, dementia, and Parkinson disease (PD; 105,355, 314,530, 281,073, 120,720, and 90,801 patients, respectively) seen by outpatient neurologists. Out-of-pocket costs were compared for those in high-deductible health plans versus traditional plans.

The researchers found that MS medications had the fastest rise in monthly out-of-pocket expenses (mean, $15 in 2004 and $309 in 2016) with minimal differences between medications. In other conditions, out-of-pocket costs for brand-name medications also rose considerably. Patients in high-deductible health plans versus those not in these plans incurred about twice the monthly out-of-pocket expenses ($661 versus $246 for MS and $40 versus $18 for epilepsy in 2016). For MS and epilepsy medications, over time, the cumulative two-year out-of-pocket costs rose almost linearly ($2,238 and $230, respectively).

"Neurologists should use out-of-pocket cost information to influence their prescribing practices, but first they must have this information available to them at the point of care," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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Posted: May 2019

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