Medicare paid $3.1M for Viagra, other erectile-dysfunction drugs

Despite a ban on funding for sexual or erectile-dysfunction treatments, Medicare improperly paid $3.1 million for the treatments over a two-year period, according to a new internal report. 

Medicare’s prescription drug processing system is designed to reject erectile dysfunction drugs, but the $3.1 million was approved because the program used an incomplete list of such drugs, the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General wrote.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program, launched in 2006, excludes payments for a drug “when used for the treatment of sexual or erectile dysfunction, unless such drug were used to treat a condition, other than sexual or erectile dysfunction, for which the drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

The $3.1 million in improper payments represented a small fraction of the $133 billion in Part D’s total drug costs in 2007 and 2008. More than $3 million was spent on Viagra alone.

Medicare said it will determine whether it can recover the money from plan sponsors that were paid for the erectile-dysfunction drugs. Since 2009, the agency has used improved internal controls to monitor drug data, Medicare said.