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Twenty Years of Triptans in the United States Medicaid Programs: Utilization and Reimbursement Trends from 1993-2013Author(s): Ying Xia, Christina Kelton, Patricia Wigle, Pamela Heaton, Jeff Guo
Publication Name: Cephalalgia
Volume: 36, Issue: 14, Page Number(s): 1305-1315
Objective After sumatriptan was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1992, triptans became first-line anti-migraine therapies. Rapidly rising triptan expenditures, however, led payers, including Medicaid, to implement cost-containment policies. We describe triptan utilization and reimbursement trends in Medicaid. Methods Using national summary files for outpatient drug utilization, utilization and expenditure data from 1993 to 2013 were extracted and summed for all triptan national drug codes reimbursed by Medicaid. Data were collected separately for tablets, injections and sprays. Results The number of triptan prescriptions increased from 87,348 in 1993 to 0.9 million in 2004; fell to 0.4 million in 2009; rose to 1 million in 2011; and rose 1.2 million in 2013. In 2013, Medicaid spent $96.8 million on triptans: 74.4%, 18.4% and 7.2% for tablets, injections and sprays, respectively. Average reimbursement per prescription was $54 for tablets, $351 for injections and $235 for sprays in 2013. From 1993 to 2013, sumatriptan was the most widely prescribed among the triptans. Conclusions The substantial increase in triptan prescriptions from 2009 to 2011, without being convincingly explained by either rising migraine prevalence or rising Medicaid enrollment, is suggestive of reduced access to these medications prior to 2009. Cost-containment policies may have inadvertently prevented Medicaid migraineurs from obtaining appropriate pharmacotherapy.