Press Release: New Trend Report Confirms Drug Prices On Unsustainable Path

May 13, 2015

New Drug Report Reveals Drug Costs Top $50,000/year for Over Half a Million Americans

Reaction from National Coalition on Health Care President and CEO John Rother on key findings from Express Scripts “Super Spending: U.S. Trends in High-Cost Medication Use.” 

“The Express Scripts “Super Spending: U.S. Trends in High-Cost Medication Use” report released today provides hard data supporting what stakeholders have been saying for the past year – drug prices are continuing to rise at an unsustainable rate and more and more Americans are starting to feel the impact.

The report finds an ‘estimated number of U.S. Patients with annual medication costs greater than $50,000 increased 63% in 2014, from 352,000 to 576,000 Americans.’ Such a rise can be attributed to the launch of several groundbreaking therapies to treat specialty conditions, including Sovaldi the $1000/day Hep C medication that brought the drug cost debate to the forefront.

Today’s study reveals the number of patients with hepatitis C who had annual medication costs at or above $50,000 rose an astonishing 733% in 2014. What’s more, of all patients with an annual drug spend exceeding $100,000, nearly 40% were receiving treatments for hepatitis C, the highest cost drug category.

After a year of paralyzing patient pocketbooks, it is clear the high cost of Hep C treatments is not a blip.  It’s a harbinger for a developing and unsustainable trend in systemwide drug spending.  Specialty pharmaceuticals, once used to treat rare conditions, are now becoming common treatments for far more prevalent chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer.

With drug spending over $100,000 now accounting for 6.5% of total U.S. drug spend (up from 2.5% in 2014) and nearly 16% of the total accounting for drug spend over $50,000, getting these prices under control is imperative.  Innovative new therapies can do nothing to improve health or save lives if most Americans can’t afford them (an idea to keep in mind with the current 21st Century Cures legislation).

Year in and year out, continued growth in drug prices will force health costs even higher putting pressure on patients, employers, and public and private payers, ultimately forcing painful trade-offs.”

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The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP) is a project of the National Coalition on Health Care, the oldest and most diverse group working to achieve comprehensive health system reform representing more than 80 participating organizations, including medical societies, businesses, unions, health care providers, faith-based associations, pension and health funds, insurers and groups representing consumers, patients, women, minorities and persons with disabilities. Member organizations collectively represent – as employees, members, or congregants – over 100 million Americans. CSRxP aims to spark a national dialogue about the need to find market-driven solutions to the problems caused by the onslaught of new high-priced prescription medicines. Follow CSRxP on Twitter.