Thursday, August 14, 2008
Annual spending on prescription drugs posts lowest increase ever recorded; rising acceptance of generic medications and flat usage rates offset effects of inflation
ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Prime Therapeutics, a thought
leader in pharmacy benefit management, today released its 2008 Drug Trend
Insights report which revealed that its 2007 prescription drug trend increased
by just 2.9 percent -- the lowest annual increase it ever recorded, and less
than half of what the company recorded in 2006.
Tim Dickman, Prime Therapeutics' president and CEO, said the biggest
factor in the low drug trend was the rising acceptance of generic medications,
which shifted the drug mix toward lower cost drugs and offset cost increases
due to inflation. Prime's generic drug utilization rose five percent during
2007, to 56.7 percent of total prescriptions filled.
"We're very encouraged with how we've been able to drive generic
utilization for our members and consumers because we know that the use of
generic medications is the most effective way to keep prescription drug
spending manageable," said Dickman. "A lack of blockbuster drugs in the
pharmaceutical development pipeline along with increasing acceptance of
generic drugs by consumers suggests that the low increase we saw during 2007
will be sustained for some time to come."
According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, spending
on prescription drugs accounts for approximately ten percent of total health
care expenditures each year. As the most commonly accessed health benefit, the
sector provides unique opportunities to slow or reduce the rising costs of
health care, helping to keep coverage as affordable and accessible as
In addition to overall drug spending, the 2008 Drug Trend Insights found
that during 2007:
-- Prescription fill rates were relatively flat -- up just two percent
-- Cholesterol (lipid lowering) medications represented the largest drug
cost category (8.6 percent of total drug spending), followed by medications
for blood pressure management and depression.
-- Lifestyle drugs (contraceptives, smoking cessation medications, acne
treatments and other prescriptions pursued for reasons other than illness) saw
the greatest annual spending increase among all drug categories, at 24
-- The fastest growing per member per month (PMPM) drug spending was seen
for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anticonvulsant (for
management of seizures) and respiratory disorder medications, respectively.
-- Specialty drugs (those drugs generally prescribed for people with
complex, ongoing medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, hemophilia,
hepatitis and rheumatoid arthritis) accounted for 14.1 percent of drugs
prescribed, and an overall increase in spending over 2006 of 8.9 percent.
Most notable in the area of quality improvement, the report cited two
Prime studies that found a correlation between out-of-pocket costs and the
length of time members continue taking prescribed medications. Specific to
specialty drugs, where out-of-pocket costs can be extremely high under
traditional plan structures, Prime found that members facing a copay greater
than $250 were 4.6 times more likely to decline to fill the prescription. This
can result in decreased quality of life and lead to even more expensive
in-hospital costs. For this reason, Prime recommends that plans consider
including an out-of-pocket maximum on co-pays for specialty drugs.
Drug Trend Insights is Prime's annual report on the factors that influence
prescription drug spending, along with a review of its efforts to control cost
increases while improving health care quality. Prime publishes this report to
help clients better understand the role of pharmacy benefits within the larger
health care environment. Offering detailed data as well as insights on
industry trends, the report can be used as a tool to guide future pharmacy
For a copy of Prime Therapeutics 2008 Drug Trend Insights, visit
Prime Therapeutics LLC is a pharmacy benefit management company dedicated
to providing innovative, clinically-based, cost-effective pharmacy solutions
for clients and members. Providing pharmacy benefit services nationwide to
approximately 14.6 million covered lives, its client base includes Blue Cross
and Blue Shield Plans, employer and union groups, and third party
administrators. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Prime Therapeutics is
collectively owned by 10 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or
affiliates of those Plans. Learn more at http://www.primetherapeutics.com.
SOURCE Prime Therapeutics LLC
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