Hepatitis C and compounded medications increase drug spending

Data released on Monday in the 2014 Express Scripts Drug Trend Report showed that new hepatitis C therapies with high prices and loopholes for compounded medications increased U.S. drug spending by 13.1 percent.

Hepatitis C and compounded medications are responsible for more than half of the increase of total spending. If hepatitis C and compound medications are excluded, U.S. drug spending only increased by 6.4 percent.

The data concluded that the U.S. spent almost 743 percent more on hepatitis C meds in 2014 than in 2013.

"For the past several years, annual drug spending increases have been below the annual rate of overall healthcare inflation in the U.S., but that paradigm is shifting dramatically as prices for medications increase at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate," Glen Stettin, senior vice president of clinical, research and new solutions at Express Scripts, said.

Hepatitis C made up 45 percent of the total increase in specialty drug spending, even though hepatitis C medications have the second lowest prescription volume among the top 10 specialty conditions.

Medicare plans that are required to follow Medicare Part D formulary guidelines had a 45.9 increase in annual specialty drug spending.

"Now, more than ever, plans need to tightly manage the pharmacy benefit, implement smarter formularies, control compounded medication use and offer the right clinical support to ensure all patients are able to achieve the best possible health outcomes at a price our country can afford," Stettin said.

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