It may not be breaking news, but prescription costs continue to skyrocket. Express Scripts, a pharmacy-benefit management company, recently released a report entitled “Super Spending: U.S. Trends in High-Cost Medication Use” which examines the prescription drug use of nearly 32 million Americans over the past two years. The numbers revealed in this report are staggering.
To start with, approximately 600,000 Americans rack up more than $50,000 in prescription costs every year, with it not being uncommon for these patients to take 10+ different medications from multiple prescribers. Most of the patients in this category were Baby Boomers (ages 51-70). The number of Americans in this tier of $50,000 or more in drug spending has climbed 63% from the previous year. There are similar rises in patients now prescribed $100,000 per year in medications – with nearly 140,000 Americans in this category.
A typical scenario for high-cost patients such as these is for specialty medications and multiple diseases to be in the picture. In fact, 90% of the patients with drug costs exceeding $50,000 annually take at least one specialty medication. It’s also common for a complex, chronic disease such as hepatitis C or cancer to be treated alongside additional diseases, such as depression or diabetes. Hepatitis C and cancer medications were even more likely to be present for patients whose drug spend exceeded $100,000 annually. Looking at hepatitis C alone, the number of patients treated for this rose 733% in the past year.
Gaining a deeper understanding of who is the typical high-needs patient helps health care providers best tailor their care to improve outcomes, quality of life, and care delivery to these patients.
PR Newswire. Express Scripts research highlights $52 billion challenge for U.S. healthcare system. May 13, 2015.