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IMS: Spending on medicines up slightly on greater utilization of healthcare system

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Total spending on U.S. medicines increased 1% on a real per capita basis in 2013, while the use of healthcare services overall rose for the first time in three years, according to a new report issued today by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The study, "Medicine Use and Shifting Costs of Healthcare: A Review of the Use of Medicines in the United States in 2013," found that total dollars spent on medications in the United States reached $329.2 billion last year, up 3.2% on a nominal basis and a rebound from the 1% decline in 2012. Primary drivers include the reduced impact of patent expiries, price increases, higher spending on innovative new medicines and greater use by patients of the healthcare system. 

Patent expiries in 2013 contributed $19 billion to lower medicine spending, compared with $29 billion the previous year. At the same time, 36 New Molecular Entities launched in 2013, the largest number in a decade, focused on specific disease areas that include oncology, hepatitis C and HIV. Overall utilization of healthcare services grew slightly as consumers returned to the healthcare system — primarily through more office visits to specialist physicians as well as outpatient treatments — following several years of self-rationing. 

In addition, patients with insurance paid higher out-of-pocket expenses in the form of deductibles and co-insurance last year, even as prescription co-payments declined and are now less than $5 for more than half of all prescriptions filled.

“Following several years of decline, 2013 was striking for the increased use by patients of all parts of the U.S. healthcare system — even in advance of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “Growth in medicine spending remains at historically low levels despite a significant uptick last year, and continues to contribute to the bending of the healthcare cost curve.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Increase in the utilization of healthcare services and medicines. The number of physician office visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions filled all increased in 2013. The number of patient office visits to primary care physicians fell by 0.7% in 2013, while visits to specialists increased by 4.9% overall and by 9.5% for seniors. The number of hospitals visits increased last year, most notably by patients who were commercially insured and received outpatient treatments. Patients filled an average of more than 12 retail prescriptions last year, up nearly 2% year over year. Those aged 65 and over filled an average of 28 prescriptions annually, down slightly from 2012;
  • Spending on medicines. While drug spending levels have contributed to slower growth in healthcare costs since 2007, nominal spending rose sharply last year. The largest single driver of the 4.2 percentage point shift in spending growth in 2013 was the $10 billion lower impact of patent expiries. Price increases for branded products added $4 billion more in spending growth last year compared to 2012; however, net price growth was essentially flat year over year, reflecting off-invoice discounts and rebates. Overall spending on medicines remained concentrated in traditional small-molecule pills dispensed through retail pharmacies, even as higher growth was seen in biologics and specialty drugs – particularly in retail and mail-order settings;
  • Transformations in disease treatment. Patients gained access to 36 New Molecular Entities in 2013, including 10 new notable cancer treatments — the most in more than a decade. A total of 27 new oncology drugs have launched in the past three years. Additionally, clusters of innovation are transforming patient care in hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and diabetes, as well as stroke and acute coronary syndrome. In addition to improved patient outcomes, these and other transformational treatments bring with them a shift in where costs are being incurred in the healthcare system — yielding the promise of fewer doctor office visits, less hospitalizations and reduced use of long-term care facilities. Seventeen orphan drugs — developed for patient populations of fewer than 200,000 individuals — launched in 2013, the most in any year since the passage of the Orphan Drug Act in 1983. The next decade promises a much faster approval process for drugs gaining the Food and Drug Administration’s new Breakthrough Therapy Designation, IMS noted; and
  • Patient payment for healthcare and medicines. Patients with insurance are incurring higher out-of-pocket costs for healthcare services despite lower co-pays for many prescriptions and additional discounts for preventive medicines. Prescription drug costs paid by most patients are declining, with average out-of-pocket costs falling below $5 for 57% of all retail prescriptions filled. At the same time, 30% of total patient out-of-pocket costs relate to just 2.3% of prescriptions, often high-cost specialty medicines. As many as 23% of prescriptions now carry no out-of-pocket costs, a dramatic rise in 2013 driven by common preventive medicines that include oral contraceptives. 

The full version of the report, including a detailed description of the methodology, can be downloaded as an app via iTunes at itunes.apple.com/app/ims-institute/id625347542

The study was produced independently as a public service, without industry or government funding. 

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Tanzeum granted FDA approval

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced that it has approved Tanzeum (albiglutide) subcutaneous injection, which is used to improve glycemic control in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 24 million people and accounts for more than 90% of diabetes cases diagnosed in the United States.

"Tanzeum is a new treatment option for the millions of Americans living with Type 2 diabetes," said Curtis Rosebraugh, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “It can be used alone or added to existing treatment regimens to control blood sugar levels in the overall management of diabetes.”

Tanzeum shouldn’t be used to treat people with Type 1 diabetes; those with increased ketones in their blood or urine; or as first-line therapy for patients who can’t be managed with diet and exercise.

 

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L’Oréal Paris to kick off ‘Women of Worth’ program via all-day Twitter forum

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — To kick-off the ninth annual Women of Worth program, L’Oréal Paris will convene thousands of women — including Maria Shriver, Arianna Huffington, Mika Brzezinski and L’Oreal Paris ambassadors Lea Michele, Eva Longoria and Liya Kebede — for the first-ever Women of Worth Twitter Forum on Wednesday. This day-long discussion will focus on the power of self-worth and its ability to propel women forward.

More than 40 years ago, L’Oréal Paris’ brand philosophy "Because I’m Worth It" was launched to celebrate women’s worth and self-esteem. This signature phrase was brought to life when L’Oréal Paris established Women of Worth to honor women making a beautiful difference in the world through volunteerism. Starting on Wednesday, nominations for the 2014 Women of Worth program will be accepted at WomenofWorth.com. The 10 women selected will be awarded $10,000, and one woman will be named the national honoree and awarded an additional $25,000 to further her philanthropic efforts. All 10 honorees will be recognized in December at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by L’Oréal Paris in New York.

To celebrate the call for nominations and to ignite a discussion on the role of self-worth among women today, L’Oréal Paris is inviting all women to join the Women of Worth Twitter Forum on Wednesday. Women can join the conversation by following @LOrealParisUSA and tweeting during one of the five scheduled chats, using the hashtag #WomenofWorth:

  • 9 a.m. ET: Women of Worth: Celebrating Extraordinary Women
  • 1 p.m. ET: The Worth Effect: The Power of Giving Back
  • 4 p.m. ET: Passion and Positivity: How Feeling Your Best Fuels Success
  • 8 p.m. ET: The Beauty of Worth: Achieving Happiness in Life, Work and Love
  • 9 p.m. ET: What’s Worth It: Charting Your Course & Realizing Your Dreams

"Celebrating the intrinsic beauty and worth of all women is the heart of the L’Oréal Paris brand, and we are deeply committed to championing women who are going above and beyond to serve their communities," said L’Oréal Paris President, Karen Fondu. "Worth has a multi-dimensional role in a woman’s life — it’s more than just confidence or self-esteem — it’s the foundation of everything we can and will achieve. The Women of Worth program was conceived as a way to demonstrate, through the achievements of incredible women, the impact of pursuing your passion and believing in your worth."

In a recent study commissioned by L’Oréal Paris on the power of self-worth, 81% of women agree that seeing other women give back inspires them to do the same. The study goes on to find that those giving back themselves tend to enjoy a stronger sense of self-worth.  

Since 2006, L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth has recognized 80 women who have devoted themselves to causes at the local and national level and motivated others to get involved. The Women of Worth program is conducted in partnership with Points of Light, a volunteer service organization. Past honorees have been involved in a range of important causes from advocating for victims of childhood abuse and mentoring homeless youth, to helping break the cycle of poverty and empowering teens with disabilities.

 

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