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Diabetes Drugs Emerge as Top Force in Drug Spending Growth
Date:5/15/2008

tes and other chronic and complex conditions. Specialist pharmacists help address prescription safety, medication compliance, and side effects, and engage patients and physicians about other elements of care. Specialist pharmacists help patients with diabetes manage their complex drug regimens and supply needs, as well as the monitoring of the disease itself. The Medco Diabetes Resource Center was a finalist in URAC's Best Practices in Consumer Empowerment and Protection for its initiatives to show how specialist pharmacists can improve patient safety in the dispensing of supplies for diabetes patients.

Specialty drug trend decelerates

Medco's 2008 Drug Trend Report also reveals that specialty drug spending continues to grow rapidly, but at a slowing rate. Spending rose 12.3 percent in 2007, with specialty drugs accounting for 11.4 percent of all pharmacy plan spending, an increase from 10.4 percent last year. Autoimmune conditions, cancer, multiple sclerosis and respiratory conditions were key drivers of specialty drug trend. Declines in spending for anemia and hepatitis C treatments helped mitigate some of the growth.

"Specialty drugs, which span many categories of treatments, were the largest contributor to drug trend last year," Epstein said. "These high-cost treatments can be life-changing for people with complex conditions and highlight the important innovations coming from the biotech industry. However, the use of these drugs needs to be managed so people gain the full benefit of treatment in a cost-efficient way."

The overall rate of specialty drug trend has slowed in recent years. In 2006, Medco reported a 16.1 percent growth rate and as recently as 2003, the rate was 26.6 percent. However, cancer treatments are expected to continue rapid spending growth, driven by increased use of costly targeted therapies. Spending for oncology agents is expected to increase 46 to 53 percent through 2010 on a compounded basis, driven by treatme
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions Inc.
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