In 2014, hepatitis C virus infection medications and compounded medications were responsible for more than half of the increase in overall drug spending, with the United States spending 743% more money on medication to treat hepatitis C virus infection in 2014 compared with 2013, according to a press release.
The Express Scripts Drug Trend Report examines annual changes in utilization, unit costs and overall prescription drug spending, based on the pharmacy claims data from Express Scripts, according to the release.
The specialty drug trend doubled and increased to 30.9% in 2014, with HCV medications concocting 45% of the total increase in specialty spending. However, the HCV medications had the second lowest prescription volume among the top 10 specialty conditions, according to the release. The annual specialty drug spend for Medicare plans increased by 45.9%.
The overall drug trend, or year-over-year increase in per capita drug spending, was 6.4% in 2014, according to the release.
“For the past several years, annual drug spending increases have been below the annual rate of overall health care inflation in the U.S., but that paradigm is shifting dramatically as prices for medications increase at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate,” Glen Stettin, MD, senior vice president of Clinical, Research and New Solutions at Express Scripts, said in the release. “Now, more than ever, plans need to tightly manage the pharmacy benefit, implement smarter formularies, control compounded medication use and offer the right clinical support to ensure all patients are able to achieve the best possible health outcomes at a price our country can afford.”
Also mentioned in the release, a sub-group analysis from a study mentioned in the report showed payers that implemented four or more cost-management programs achieved nearly zero drug trend and spent nearly 30% less per member on traditional medications compared with payers with less managed pharmacy plans. Another analysis showed that the annual increase in specialty spending is 32% less for employers with a tightly managed specialty pharmacy benefit compared with employers with an unmanaged benefit.
Disclosure: Stettin is an employee of Express Scripts.