ST. LOUIS, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in more than 20 years, there was a decrease in 2012 U.S. spending on traditional prescription drugs — primarily pills people take to treat more common diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure — according to new data released today by Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX).
Among the country's commercially insured population, total spending on traditional prescription drugs fell 1.5 percent in 2012. However, this decline was offset by an 18.4 percent increase in spending on specialty medications to treat more complex diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and hepatitis C. Combined, total drug trend for the year was +2.7 percent, consistent with the rate of growth in 2011.
The Express Scripts 2012 Drug Trend Report quantifies annual changes in utilization, unit costs and overall prescription drug spending, based on Express Scripts claims data. Now an online publication, the full report is available at www.DrugTrendReport.com.
"The first-ever decrease in traditional drug spending is the latest chapter of an ongoing success story for our utilization management programs and for an increased interest in generic medications, home delivery pharmacy and more focused retail pharmacy networks," said Glen Stettin, MD, Express Scripts senior vice president of Clinical, Research & New Solutions.
"These same principles of effective management solutions and increased drug competition are necessary to the country's effort to rein in specialty drug costs," Stettin said. "The plan sponsors who implement our specialty management programs are already seeing much lower growth in specialty drug costs than the national average. And increased drug competition, in the form of biosimilars, is necessary to offer more affordable medication for patients afflicted with these complex specialty conditions."
A Historic First in Traditional Prescription Drug Spending
Since 1993 when Express Scripts began recording annual drug trend, 2012 marks the first year where total spending on traditional drugs declined.
The Increasing Challenge of Specialty Prescription Drug Spending
Specialty medications often require specialized handling or administration, frequent dosing adjustments, and intensive clinical monitoring and patient assistance. While affecting fewer than 2 percent of the general population, specialty conditions in 2012 accounted for 24.5 percent of the country's total drug spend within the pharmacy benefit, the highest percentage on record.
New Insights Into Medicare and Medicaid Populations
The Drug Trend Report also includes annual data and new research specifically related to Medicare and Medicaid populations.
Widening Price Gap in Brand-Name and Generic Medications
According to the Express Scripts Prescription Price Index, prices on a market basket of the most highly utilized brand-name medications increased 12.5 percent in 2012, far outpacing the Consumer Price Index's 2012 inflation of 1.7 percent. During the same time frame, prices of generic medications declined 24 percent. This 36.5 percentage point net inflationary effect is the largest single-year widening of brand and generic prices since Express Scripts began calculating its Prescription Price Index in 2008.
About Express Scripts
Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX) manages more than a billion prescriptions each year for tens of millions of patients. On behalf of our clients — employers, health plans, unions and government health programs — we make the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable. Express Scripts uniquely combines three capabilities — behavioral sciences, clinical specialization and actionable data — to create Health Decision Science℠, our innovative approach to help individuals make the best drug choices, pharmacy choices and health choices. Better decisions mean healthier outcomes.
Headquartered in St. Louis, Express Scripts provides integrated pharmacy benefit management services, including network-pharmacy claims processing, home delivery, specialty benefit management, benefit-design consultation, drug-utilization review, formulary management, and medical and drug data analysis services. The company also distributes a full range of biopharmaceutical products and provides extensive cost-management and patient-care services.
SOURCE Express Scripts