Do You Know What the 10 Most Expensive Medicare Part B Drugs Are?

Medicare spent approximately $19.5 billion on Part B drugs in 2010. Part B drugs are either administered by a doctor or under a doctor’s close supervision in a physician’s office or in a hospital outpatient setting.

Many of these drugs are quite expensive because they are either used by a substantial number of beneficiaries or because they have a high cost.

Part B drugs differ from Medicare Part D drugs because the latter are normally self-administered. Part D drugs cost Medicare, its beneficiaries and states $61.7 billion in 2010.

The most expensive Part B drugs make up the majority of total Part B drug spending. In 2010, the 55 most costly Part B drugs made up about 85 percent of all Medicare Part B drug spending, while the 10 most costly drugs accounted for nearly 45 percent of all Part B drug spending.

Twenty-three of the 55 highest-expenditure Part B drugs are used in cancer treatments.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the top 10 most expensive Part B drugs, ranked by the average annual cost per beneficiary, are:

10. Velcade
Treats: cancer
Cost: $19,667

9. Sandostatin Lar Depot
Treats: acromegaly, diarrhea and flushing caused by cancerous tumors and vasoactive intestinal peptide secreting adenomas
Cost: $22,748

8. Vidaza
Treats: myelodysplastic syndrome
Cost: $22,957

7. Herceptin
Treats: cancer
Cost: $25,797

6. Dacogen
Treats: myelodysplastic syndrome
Cost: $25,858

5. Erbitux
Treats: cancer
Cost: $25,898

4. Primacor, Primacor in Dextrose
Treats: acute decompensated heart failure
Cost: $62,790

3. Ventavis
Treats: pulmonary arterial hypertension
Cost: $84,205

2. Remodulin
Treats: pulmonary arterial hypertension
Cost: $130,772

1. Factor viii Recombinant (various)
Treats: hemophilia A
Cost: $216,833