Prescription drug costs projected to rise by 11 percent to 13 percent in 2016

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published July 26, 2016

Key Takeaways

This year, the costs of prescription medications will increase by at least 11% to 13%, according to projections based on a report on national trends in prescription drug expenditures, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy. Specifically, they predicted that clinic drug expenditures will increase by 15% to 17%, and spending in nonfederal hospitals by 10% to 12%.

“These estimates for growth are considerably higher than those we have made in the past but consistent with recent trends and other forecasts. We have observed consistent increases in growth over the past 3 years in hospital settings,” said lead author Glen Schumock, PharmD, MBA, PhD, FCCP, department head and professor, Pharmacy Systems Outcomes and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy.

For this report, Dr. Schumock and fellow researchers reviewed data from the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives (NSP) database. It was published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, and is used each year to project drug spending and formulate budgets by hospital and health-system pharmacists.

Since 2013, drug prices have climbed steeply, and according to their analysis, this trend continued in 2015. Dr. Schumock and colleagues presented additional findings:

  • In 2015, total prescription sales in the U.S. were $419.4 billion, an 11.7% increase from 2014.
  • In clinics, prescription expenditures were $56.7 billion, a 15.9% increase over 2014.
  • In nonfederal hospitals, prescription expenditures were $33.6 billion, a 10.7% increase over 2014.
  • Ledipasvir-sofosbuvir, a hepatitis C combination agent, accounted for the most expenditures in 2015, at $14.3 billion.
  • In clinics and nonfederal hospitals, the top drug for expenditures was infliximab.
  • Adalimumab came in second at $10.6 billion, followed by insulin glargine at $9.2 billion, and etanercept and rosuvastatin at approximately $6.5 billion each.
  • The greatest increases involved specialty agents and older generics, and “These agents are likely to continue to influence total spending this year,” said Dr. Schumock.

In 2015, he explained, the FDA approved 45 new agents indicated for complex, chronic, and rare diseases—such pulmonary arterial hypertension and metastatic breast cancer—with more approvals likely. Based on this, he predicted that the increase in the use of high-priced specialty medications may increase costs even more. Finally, he noted that biosimilar agents may help mitigate these rising drug costs, but in order to do so, a sufficient number of biosimilars is necessary.

Table 1. Top 15 Antimicrobial Drugs by Expenditures in Clinics and Nonfederal Hospitals in 2015

Druga

2015 Expenditures

($ Thousands)

Percent Change From 2014

Expenditures in Clinics

Ledipasvir–sofosbuvir

932,428

. . .b

Daptomycin

216,851

17.5

Sofosbuvir

205,322

–52.5

Emtricitabine–tenofovir–cobicistat–elvitegravir

196,329

34.8

Emtricitabine–tenofovir

170,547

–1.1

Efavirenz–emtricitabine–tenofovir

144,275

–13.1

Darunavir

101,427

. . .

Abacavir–dolutegravir–lamivudine

89,049

. . .

Emtricitabine–rilpivirine–tenofovir

73,326

10.5

Dolutegravir

66,597

61.4

Raltegravir

66,283

–17.4

Valganciclovir

65,564

31.8

Atazanavir

57,237

–25.7

Ombitasvir–paritaprevir–ritonavir

50,115

. . .

Vancomycin

49,616

79.8

Expenditures in Nonfederal Hospitals

Daptomycin

644,964

–6.1

Piperacillin–tazobactam

440,142

11.6

Linezolid

212,269

–39.4

Vancomycin

176,660

36.2

Ledipasvir–sofosbuvir

175,797

. . .

Ertapenem

158,027

17.0

Efavirenz–emtricitabine–tenofovir

157,646

10.8

Emtricitabine–tenofovir

154,546

8.7

Emtricitabine–tenofovir–cobicistat–elvitegravir

108,689

35.4

Meropenem

105,564

30.6

Ceftaroline

83,409

32.5

Aztreonam

79,730

–4.6

Tigecycline

75,550

1.3

Darunavir

75,204

–0.6

Micafungin

70,459

–1.2

aFor each drug listed, the expenditures shown are the total for brand and generic products and for various dosage forms.

bNot calculated because product was not available for entire year in 2014.

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