Specialty drugs, which are largely brand-name biologics, accounted for 70.1 percent of overall drug trend. Both utilization and unit costs increased for these medicines, which treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and an array other conditions, including rare diseases such as hemophilia and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
"We have helped our clients adapt to these changes in the pharmaceutical market by advising them to take advantage of the savings provided by generics and mail order, both of which serve to counter the cost of brand name and specialty drugs," said Medco Chairman and CEO David B. Snow Jr. "Our clients have benefited from relatively modest increases in pharmacy spending, as well as use of the Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers™ and personalized medicine to improve patient outcomes and mitigate medical costs."
Diabetes drugs – the leading trend driver
For the fourth consecutive year, diabetes medications were the largest therapeutic category of drugs for driving overall spending growth. The drug trend for this group, which includes insulin, hypoglycemic drugs, glucose-elevating agents and supplies, was 7.6 percent. However, the large number of patients with diabetes led this category to contribute nearly 17 percent of the overall growth in drug spending last year. Unit costs for these medicines increased 5 percent and utilization increased 2.5 percent.
"Demand for these diabetes drugs as a category remains unabated as America struggles with what has become a worldwide epidemic," Stett
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