Prescription drug ads may have increased Medicare spending

The large sums of money spent on advertising prescription drugs directly to consumers may have contributed to increased use by Medicare beneficiaries and driven up spending by the federal health care program, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The analysis found Medicare Parts B and D, as well as beneficiaries, spent $560 billion on medicines from 2016 through 2018. More than half of that spending — $324 billion — went to purchasing drugs that were advertised directly to consumers. Of the 553 advertised drugs, the GAO found that Medicare Parts B and D purchased 104 and 463 drugs, respectively.

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