publication date: Mar. 13, 2015

U.S. Prescription Drug Spending Increased 13 Percent in 2014


New hepatitis C therapies with high price tags and the exploitation of loopholes for compounded medications contributed to a 13.1 percent increase in U.S. drug spending in 2014, a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to the 2014 Express Scripts Drug Trend Report.

Hepatitis C and compounded medications are responsible for more than half of the increase in overall spending. Excluding those two therapy classes, 2014 drug trend (the year-over-year increase in per capita drug spending) was 6.4 percent.

Specialty medications—biologic and other high cost treatments for complex conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer—accounted for more than 31 percent of total drug spending in 2014.

In related news, cancer drug prices have increased by 10 percent annually, an average of $8,500 per year, from 1995 to 2013, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (The Cancer Letter, Jan. 23).

According to an Express Scripts forecast last year, specialty drug trend more than doubled in 2014, to 30.9 percent. Hepatitis C medications accounted for 45 percent of the total increase in specialty spend despite having the second lowest prescription volume among the top 10 specialty conditions.

Medicare plans—required to follow Medicare Part D formulary guidelines—were the hardest hit, as their annual specialty drug spend increased 45.9 percent.

“For the past several years, annual drug spending increases have been below the annual rate of overall healthcare inflation in the U.S., but that paradigm is shifting dramatically as prices for medications increase at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate,” said Glen Stettin, senior vice president of clinical research and new … Continue reading 41-10 U.S. Prescription Drug Spending Increased 13 Percent in 2014

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