[Kaiser Health News] Costly Hepatitis C Treatments Help Drive 12 Percent Drug Spending Jump

After several years of modest increases, American spending on medications is projected to shoot up by 12 percent this year, pushing the nation’s drug bill to between $375 billion and $385 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Several factors are driving the spending spike, including the introduction of expensive new hepatitis C drugs and fewer drug patent expirations than in previous years, the report found. Such expirations typically lead to savings as cheaper generics replace brand-name drugs.

The 11.7 percent rise is a dramatic departure from the more modest average increases of 3.6 percent in annual drug spending during the past five years.

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