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Mail Service and Higher Generic Use Helps Keep Spending in Check, Countering Brand Drug Price Inflation and Specialty Medication Growth
Date:5/13/2009

-- Medco reports overall 3.3 percent Drug Trend for 2008

-- Drug Trend managed to a low 1.3 percent excluding specialty medications

-- Clients with more than 40 percent mail order experienced a negative drug trend

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., May 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Brand-name drug price inflation hit its highest level in five years, but increased use of generic drugs limited prescription drug spending growth to 3.3 percent, a new report released by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) revealed today. Specialty drugs, which include brand-name, high-cost biologics, accounted for 60 percent of that growth.

Medco's drug trend -- a measure of spending growth that tracks the year-over-year increases in prescription spending among its client base -- faced pressure from brand-name drug price inflation that topped 8 percent in 2008. Generic drugs, however, accounted for more than 64 percent of all prescriptions dispensed last year, dampening the impact of rising brand-name prices and specialty drugs as clients and members seek lower-cost options.

In 2008 Medco's overall prescription volume increased to 586 million up from 560 million the prior year. Of that total, Medco's mail-order prescription volume rose 11.6 percent to 106 million. Prescription drug utilization, which is the days of therapy per member, fell a slight 1.1 percent in 2008. This drop was primarily driven by over-the-counter availability of widely used allergy and gastrointestinal medications and safety concerns for certain medication classes.

For the second consecutive year, diabetes medications were the leading driver of drug trend as the disease afflicts more patients and doctors increasingly prescribe newer and costlier drug therapies, the company said in the 2009 Medco Drug Trend Report, a c
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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