IMS: Americans filled a record 4.3 billion prescriptions in 2014
- Spending on medicines. Spending reached $373.9 billion in 2014, up 13.1%, the highest level since 2001 when growth was 17%. In addition to the lower impact from patent expiries and the record spending on new brands, price increases for protected brands also increased spending in 2014 by $26.3 billion, contributing 8.2% to total market growth on an invoice price basis. Estimated net price growth was substantially lower, as rising off-invoice discounts and rebates offset incremental price growth and reduced the net price growth contribution to 3.1%. Spending on specialty medicines increased $54 billion over the past five years, contributing 73% of overall medicine spending growth in that period. The biggest driver of specialty spending growth was the more than 161,000 patients who started treatment for hepatitis C in 2014, more than four times the previous peak as spending on widely adopted new treatments totaled $12.3 billion;
- Changes in the demand and payment for medicines. In the first full year of enrollment for expanded Medicaid and exchanges under the ACA, patients with Medicaid in states that expanded eligibility filled 25.4% more prescriptions than in the prior year, compared with 2.8% more in non-expansion states. Newly covered patients in Health Insurance Exchanges had slightly lower levels of increase in medicine use, and 70% of them were commercially insured in the prior year. Patients with employer-based insurance filled fewer prescriptions in 2014 due in part to the impact of rising co-pays and deductibles. High out-of-pocket costs can be mitigated with various forms of co-pay assistance, including coupons and vouchers. For example, as many as half of all branded prescriptions in newer diabetes treatments are now being supported in this way, compared with 8% of brands in all therapy areas. Overall, healthcare services demand shifted last year as patients had 3% fewer office visits and 1.7% fewer hospital admissions – but filled 2.1% more prescriptions; and
- Transformations in disease treatment. The drug R&D pipeline has shifted to specialty medicines over the past decade, with 42% of the late-stage pipeline now specialty – up from 33% 10 years ago. As many as 10 therapies were launched in 2014 with “Breakthrough Therapy” status as designated by the FDA under the 2012 FDA Safety and Innovation Act. Last year saw the largest number of orphan drugs launched in a single year, bringing the total number of treatments with orphan designation to 230. Cancer remains the most common orphan drug category, and nine “ultra-orphan” drugs – for populations fewer than 10,000 – became available last year. Among the most anticipated innovations are biosimilars – generic versions of biologic drugs – which began being filed for FDA review in 2014 with approvals already underway this year.
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DSN editor addresses complexities of prescription drug anti-abuse policy in popular DC blog
In an op-ed in The Hill — a leading publication for members of Congress, policy makers and other Washington influencers — Drug Store News editor Rob Eder argues for the enactment of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (S. 483/H.R. 471). The bill would bring together enforcement and health agencies, and important stakeholders — including community pharmacy — to generate new and effective solutions to help prevent prescription drug abuse while protecting access for legitimate patients. Click here to read the complete post.