Pharmaceutical Industry

Senator: Is Medicare drug plan vulnerable to exploitation?

A senior senator is examining whether Medicare's prescription drug benefit is vulnerable to manipulation by pharmaceutical companies that set very high prices for medications.

In a letter Tuesday to Medicare's top administrator, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said policymakers must ensure the Part D prescription program serving some 38 million beneficiaries "is free from exploitation," and asked if it meets that test as currently structured.

Grassley acted after The Associated Press reported on Medicare data that show spending for high-cost drugs covered under the program's "catastrophic" protection jumped by 85 percent in three years, from $27.7...