Perspective from Lisa M. Young, OD, FAAO
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
January 04, 2021
2 min read
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Branded glaucoma medication prices increased over 7 years

Perspective from Lisa M. Young, OD, FAAO
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Prices of branded glaucoma medications increased in the U.S. over the past 7 years, according to a study published in the Journal of Glaucoma.

“Reducing IOP is the only proven method to treat glaucoma, and the most common way to achieve this is with topical drugs,” Edward Barayev, MD, MHA, Rabin Medical Center, and colleagues wrote. “Previous studies have found that patients with lower adherence rates had a higher risk of developing severe visual field changes. ... High costs could result in less frequent medication purchases and lead to lower medication adherence.”

In a retrospective cohort analysis, researchers used the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost database and Medicare Part D prescriber profiles to analyze per-unit drug cost and eye care provider prescribing patterns. Study results showed a 59% price increase for brand name medications from 2013 to 2019 ($124 vs. $196.72, respectively) and a 22% price decrease for generic medications ($15.70 vs. $12.20, respectively). Further analysis showed brand name drugs were 13 times to 162 times more expensive than their generic counter parts. Investigators reported that eye care providers prescribed 25% less brand name medications in 2017 compared with 2013 (26.6% vs. 35.4%, respectively).

“We found strong evidence for a long-term trend of brand glaucoma medication increasing prices in the U.S. over the past 7 years, alongside a reduction in eye care providers prescribing brand medications over generics. Dropping topical medication prices and further reducing the amount of brand-name prescriptions could significantly lower public spending on Medicare Part D prescription medications,” Barayev and colleagues concluded. “Amongst other considerations, the prescribing physician should contemplate the financial toxicity of the chosen drug on the patient when allocating treatment.”

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