Study: Medicare Part D sources 2 to 3 times more branded Rx than VA

PHILADELPHIA — The Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday published a study comparing generic utilization of common diabetes medications across two government programs — Medicare Part D and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Medicare's use of brand-name medicines was two to three times greater than the VA.

According to the study, the disparity comes out of Medicare's reliance on private plans with distinct formularies, whereas the VA administers its own benefit using a national formulary.

Brand-name drug use for oral hypoglycemics totaled 35.3% across Medicare, vs. 12.7% at the VA; 50.7% vs. 18.2% for statins; 42.5% vs. 20.8% for ACE inhibitors; and 75.1% vs. 27% for insulin analogues. 

While the study identified the generic utilization disparity, researchers noted they could not provide a comprehensive analysis describing the factors underlying differences in brand-name drug use.