Medicare Prescribes More Brand Name Drugs Than VA

Genevra Pittman | Reuters | June 10, 2013

Medicare Part D beneficiaries are two to three times more likely than those covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be prescribed brand name diabetes drugs rather than generics, a new study suggests.

Because it doesn't seem the brand name versions work any better, researchers said the extra $1.4 billion Medicare spent on those drugs in 2008 may not have led to improved patient health.

"It represents essentially spending that is probably not necessary for most people," said Dr. Walid Gellad, from the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, who led the new study.

"There's no evidence that the VA is suffering any adverse effects or the patients are suffering any adverse effects because they're using generics," he told Reuters Health.