A chorus of concern over the cost of prescription drugs for both patients and the health system has been growing louder. Spending on prescription drugs surged 13% last year to a record $374 billion, according to a report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. That’s the largest increase in the pace of prescription drug spending since 2000-2001, when drug spending rose by 16%, and significantly faster than the 6.8% spending growth projected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Much of the attention has been focused on 2 new drugs introduced by Gilead Sciences in 2013 (Solvadi; the highest-selling drug in 2014 at $7.9 billion, according to the IMS report) and 2014 (Harvoni) for treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, as well as other new biologic or specialty drugs for cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. The recommendation by a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel in June 2015 to approve 2 injectable cholesterol-lowering drugs is certain to keep the questions that are raised by the costs of these new drug types front and center.
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Gail Wilensky, PhD Gail Wilensky, PhD, is an economist and Senior Fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation. Dr Wilensky previously directed the Medicare and Medicaid programs and served in the White House as a senior adviser on health and welfare...