Study shows how brand Rx drain Medicare

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ProPublica has dug into Medicare prescribing patterns and the results are not good. The latest series kicked off Monday, during which reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber ran down some quick, pricey facts:

  • That the prescribing habits of 913 physicians cost taxpayers an additional $300 million in medication costs in 2011 because of their preferences for brand-name drugs over generics
  • That many of these physicians pocketed industry consulting fees
  • If these same doctors had to follow the VA's prescribing rules, Medicare could have saved $1.4 billion based on the VA's 2008 prescribing patterns for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure medications

Part two, which ProPublica released Wednesday, reveals doctors' reactions to the reporting duo's findings, and the sampled comments reveal frustration over the perception that "new" automatically means "better."

“We've almost glamorized the doctor who uses the latest, greatest, newest drug,” President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine tells ProPublica.

“They think if a drug has been approved, it must be better,” commented Yale University School of Medicine's Joseph Ross.

“We should by and large be prescribing essentially the highest-value interventions that we can, which means, generally, generics over brand names,” said University of Alabama Department of Medicine's Seth Landefeld.

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