February 7, 2018

Pharmacy Trends

With the beginning of the new year, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are beginning to release 2017 data, along with forecasts for 2018. Express Scripts recently released their “2017 Drug Trend Report.” With this report, Express Scripts provides insight into the utilization trends and costs for 34.3 million members. Interestingly, despite the growth in cost and utilization of specialty drugs, the study found that nearly half of employer-based plans saw a slight decrease in per member cost! For those employers with high levels of specialty drug utilization, outcomes were much different. Because of specialty drugs, employer plans face a higher degree of uncertainty when setting pharmacy budgets.

Key findings of the study include:

1. Per person spending on prescription drugs rose 1.5% in 2017.
2. Spending on so-called traditional drugs declined by 4.3%, primarily due to a decrease in per unit costs.
3. Spending on specialty drugs increased 11.3% in 2017.
4. Because of increased controls on opioids, days supplied dispensed per person decreased by 10.3%. Advanced opioid management programs resulted in a 60% decline in days supplied.
5. Cost increases will be most pronounced in the following categories: Inflammatory conditions, oncology, HIV, and anticoagulants.
6. Gene therapy advances that cure previously untreatable conditions will require new approaches in delivery and financing.

A link to the study can be found here.

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