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Medicare Part D Spending for Psoriasis Drugs Grows

April 14, 2021

Between 2013 and 2017, the proportion of Medicare Part D spending on psoriasis drugs grew from 36% to 53% of total dermatology-related spending, according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

“Over the past decade, many new biologic and small-molecule drugs have been approved for psoriasis,” researchers wrote. “These specialty drugs tend to be expensive and place financial burden on the health care system as well as patients.” 

To explore trends in Medicare Part D spending and prescription patterns for psoriasis medications, researchers tapped the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Medicare Part D Public Use Files for the years 2013 to 2017. 

Over the 5-year span, an average 41% of total Medicare Part D spending by dermatologists in the database went toward psoriasis drugs, according to the study. Biologics accounted for 86.5% of psoriasis prescriptions. 

Between 2013 and 2017, when psoriasis-related spending grew from 36% to 53% of total Medicare Part D dermatology spending, prescriptions for etanercept dropped. Dermatologists prescribing newly approved drugs, however, grew significantly. 

In 2013, the daily cost of biologics for psoriasis was significantly variable, researchers reported. By 2017, the daily cost of biologic drugs converged toward similar costs. 

“Psoriasis prescriptions comprise a large, increasing proportion of Medicare Part D spending related to dermatology,” researchers wrote. “These increasing costs have significant implications for the health care system and affect out-of-pocket costs for patients who rely on such medications.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Yang JJ, Pham AT, Maloney NJ, Aly O, Cheng K. Psoriasis drugs in the medicare population: dermatologists' spending and prescription patterns [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jan 20]. J Dermatolog Treat. 2021;1-4. doi:10.1080/09546634.2020.1864265

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