PHARMACY

CMS: U.S. health spending hits $2.5 trillion as Rx costs reach $246 billion

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Healthcare spending in the United States climbed 5.7% to $2.5 trillion in 2009, despite the impact of a struggling economy, according to projections issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published in the journal Health Affairs.

Healthcare expenditures now comprise 17.3% of the nation’s total gross domestic product, CMS estimated. Over the next decade, the agency predicted, health spending will jump at an average rate of 6.1% a year, versus a projected average annual gain of 4.4% for the overall GDP.

With more Americans losing their insurance and Medicaid enrollments rising, public spending for health care will continue to grow faster than health spending in the private sector, the government predicted.

The rise in total health costs was not quite matched by the growth of prescription drug spending, CMS economists estimated. Total prescription drug spending rose a projected 5.2% last year, the agency reported in Health Affairs, to a U.S. total of $246.3 billion.

That marks an accelerating trend for drug spending, according to the journal, which cited “an increase in per person use of drugs, driven by the need for antiviral drugs to treat H1N1, and by higher price growth in brand-name drugs.”

Long-term growth of both overall healthcare expenditures and the prescription drug market will continue at a steady clip, government analysts predict. CMS pegs total drug expenditures at $457.8 billion by 2019, Health Affairs reported, “with spending growth expected to accelerate over the projection period due primarily to increases in drug prices.”

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Pfizer teams up with Keas

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker Pfizer will work with health information service Keas to allow health-and-wellness experts to write, sell and distribute personalized online care plans directly to patients, the two companies announced Monday.

Keas is a company that provides care plans written by pharmacists, doctors and nutritionists. Companies that have published care plans on Keas have included CVS MinuteClinic, DiabetesMine, HealthWise and Dr. Greene Pediatrics. The Web site includes a personalized “dashboard” that allows users to keep track of their personal health goals and help them make healthcare decisions.

“Our partnership with Keas demonstrates Pfizer’s commitment to invest in innovative and game-changing solutions that empower patients and physicians to further engage in the patient’s health,” Pfizer SVP worldwide strategy and innovation Kristin Peck said. “This is a further testimony of Pfizer’s commitment to remain the partner of choice for entrepreneurs and innovators.”

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Cornerstone moves drug testing site for investigational cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

CRANBURY, N.J. Early- and mid-stage clinical trials of an investigational drug for treating cancer have a new testing site, the drug’s developer said Monday.

Privately owned drug maker Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals announced that the phase 1 and phase 2 trials of the drug CPI-613 would include a site owned by Pivotal Research Centers in Peoria, Ariz. CPI-613 is part of a new drug class developed using Cornerstone’s Altered Energy Metabolism Directed technology platform designed to target metabolic changes that may be common to many cancer types. The Food and Drug Administration has given the drug orphan drug status for pancreatic cancer.

“This is a very significant development for our company as we expand the clinical trials of CPI-613 and continue to partner with institutions that share our vision of helping people to better manage their affliction,” Cornerstone CEO Robert Shorr said.

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