The article “National trends in prescription drug expenditures and projections for 2016,” commissioned by ASHP and written by Glen T. Schumock, Pharm.D., M.B.A., Ph.D., et al., provides an overview of the factors driving medication costs up, often far past the rate of inflation.
The report’s authors relied on information from the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives™ (NSP) database to examine past trends in drug expenditures and expected changes in the drug marketplace that may influence drug costs, including anticipated new drug approvals and patent expirations, to make their predictions. ASHP publishes this annual projection of drug expenditures to help health-system pharmacy leaders plan drug budgets.
Total U.S. prescription drug sales in 2015 were $419.4 billion, and prescription expenditures in clinics and nonfederal hospitals totaled $56.7 billion (a 15.9 percent increase) and $33.6 billion (a 10.7 percent increase), respectively.
“Because factors that influence spending vary by sector, it’s important to drill down to understand what is happening in each sector and drug class,” said Dr. Schumock, Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes, and Policy at the College of Pharmacy at The University of Illinois, Chicago.
In nonfederal hospitals, rising prices of existing drugs (specifically injectables) drove the growth in spending. In clinics, increased volume of use led to higher expenditures. Infliximab was the top drug based on total spending in both settings.
AJHP Editor in Chief Daniel J. Cobaugh, Pharm.D., DABAT, FAACT, believes that pharmacists will find the trends and projections outlined in the report to be invaluable in planning ahead to control potential drug cost increases while maintaining the quality of patient care.
According to Dr. Schumock, pharmacists need to be diligent about understanding what factors influence drug spending within their own organizations.
Dr. Schumock believes that the continued expansion of the number and use of high-priced specialty medications will push costs even higher in 2016. “Specialty medications will constitute a significant portion of new medications on the market in the future,” he said. “As such, they will drive even higher spending.”
The authors note that in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 45 new medications for complex, chronic, or rare diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, plaque psoriasis, HCV infection, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
An aging patient population, greater patient access to healthcare services due to the Affordable Care Act, and a growing U.S. economy will also influence medication costs in the future, according to Dr. Schumock. One of the bright spots on the horizon for reducing medication costs may be the advent of biosimilars.
To glean further insight into future drug spending trends and projections, listen to an ASHP Voices interview with Dr. Schumock and the study’s co-author, Michelle D. Wiest, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP, by clicking here. In addition, click here for an infographic to help readers interpret the paper from a visual perspective.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2015 Prescription Drug Expenditures infographic can be made available for digital and print reproduction.