Medicare beneficiaries who had no drug insurance coverage before 2006 are getting more and spending less under the program’s new Part D benefit, according to results of a pharmaceutical industry-sponsored study.

For 2006, beneficiaries’ monthly out-of-pocket costs for drugs were less than half of what they were in 2005, before the program existed. That’s according to a study conducted by The Amundsen Group for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The cost data for 2006 did not include enrollees’ Part D premiums.

In addition, there were sharp increases in prescriptions filled for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis medications among beneficiaries who previously did not have drug coverage, study authors said.

Data on beneficiary out-of-pocket costs in the so-called doughnut hole were not factored in because few beneficiaries had reached the coverage gap in the first six months of 2006, the dates from which the study data were taken.

The study, “Medicare Part D: Improving Care for Beneficiaries Without Drug Coverage,” is available at