Even though costs for medications will continue to rise in 2013 by as much as 4 percent, the increase is projected to be less than in previous years, according to a report in the advance online publication of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, the journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).
The report, "Projecting Future Drug Expenditures in U.S. Non-Federal Hospitals and Clinics—2013," looked at drug expenditure trends in 2011 and 2012, projects drug expenditures for 2013 and examines factors likely to influence drug expenditures. Based on a variety of data, including new drug approvals and patent expirations, the authors project a 1-3 percent increase in drug expenditures across all settings, a 2-4 percent increase in expenditures for clinic-administered drugs, and a 1.5 percent increase in hospital drug expenditures for 2013.
"In the aggregate, drug expenditure growth is moderating, especially in the hospital setting," according to the report's principal author, James M. Hoffman, Pharm.D., who is the medication outcomes and safety officer and an associate member in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "But when we focus on specific drugs, such as drugs frequently used in clinics, we also see dramatic increases in expenditures. Cancer therapies in particular stand out as costly drugs for hospitals and clinics, and the paper summarizes the high costs for new oncology agents that came on the market in 2012 and the top 20 antineoplastic drug expenditures in clinics in 2011 and 2012."
The overall rise in drug costs is less than in previous years, according to the authors. The increasing availability of less-expensive generic product is a primary factor reducing drug expenditures.
From September 2011 to September 2012, prescription sales in the U.S. totaled $326 billion, a 0.8 percent increase from the previous 12 months. The growth rate was the lowest in recent history. The authors attribute this slowing to modest increases in expenditures for new products (3.3 percent) and pricing of existing products (5.9 percent), coupled with a marked decline in overall volume and mix (less than 8.4 percent).