Analysis: Part D drug program reduces out-of-pocket costs

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Average out-of-pocket spending has fallen and average prescription drug use has risen modestly, according to an early analysis of the effect of the Medicare Part D drug program on the prescription drug market.

Seniors ages 66 to 79 experienced a 13.1% decrease in costs and a 5.9% increase in prescription drug use, researchers say. Study authors captured data from patients who filled at least one prescription in both 2005 and 2006 at any Walgreens retail or mail-order outlet.

The study that produced these findings was a joint effort between researchers at Harvard University, the University of Chicago and Virginia Commonwealth University, and sampled information collected from Walgreen's pharmacies between 2005 and 2006.

More on the results is available at

http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/0000605-200802050-00200v1 and also will appear in the Feb. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.