Government payments for an anemia drug used to treat kidney dialysis patients encourage overuse that is wasteful, costly and raises the risk of heart complications, specialists testified before Congress.
Medicare spends about two billion dollars a year on the drug Epogen, used to treat patients with kidney disease. That’s more than any other drug covered in Medicare part B.
The Government Accountability Office suggests that Epogen be packaged and paid for with other services so there would be no incentive to provide more of the drug than needed.
But the drug’s maker — Amgen — says implementing that change without studying the possible effects could harm patients and cost Medicare more money.