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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

more of a presence in the marketplace.

"Under even greater pressure due to the unstable economy, plans are more aggressively pursuing tighter prescription drug management techniques, such as generics and mail order, to both reduce costs and preserve a comprehensive, high-quality benefit for their members," Chairman and CEO David B. Snow Jr. said. "Medco's clinical focus drives this concept even further -- as specialist pharmacists engage members who have chronic conditions and their physicians to close clinical gaps in care -- fundamentally bending the cost curve and reducing overall health care costs through improved compliance and wellness."

Per Member Utilization Dips

Prescription demand fell 1.1 percent in 2008, largely related to safety concerns for certain medication classes, over-the-counter availability of blockbuster medications and a relatively low number of new drug introductions, the report said.

"Safety issues and a transition to over-the-counter medicines had more to do with lowering utilization than either an unhealthy economy or a healthy population," said Dr. Robert S. Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer. "An aging America, combined with an obesity epidemic, has led to a surge in chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease. Until we successfully tackle this public health crisis, patients and payors will continue to see rising health care costs."

According to the report, safety issues led to declines in the use of osteoporosis drugs, hormone replacement therapy and medications used to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia. In addition, product withdrawals mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) resulted in a drop in migraine and cough & cold medication use.

Several medications became available without a prescription in 2008, reducing prescription drug utilization even as patien
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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