iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

Drug costs in 2015

4.4 Billion Prescription Drugs Were Dispensed in 2015

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics recently conducted an analysis on medication spending trends. Here are some key findings from the report:

· Total spending on medicines in the U.S. reached $310 billion in 2015.

· 2015 saw a 8.5% total spending increase for medicines in the U.S. compared to 2014.

· Specialty medicines contributed more than two-thirds of overall growth between 2010 and 2015.

· 2015 saw a 21.5% spending increase for specialty medicines to $150.8 billion on an invoice price basis.

· The average patient cost exposure for brand prescriptions reached $44 per prescription in 2015.

· Total prescriptions dispensed in 2015 reached 4.4 billion, up 1% year over year.

Source: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, April 14, 2016

Biologic’s and Generic’s Share of Pharmaceutical Market

Biologics share of total pharmaceutical sales worldwide:

2014 2015 2016 2017
11% 15% 18% 19-20%

Generics market share:

Developed Markets Emerging Markets Rest of World World
2012 16% 58% 27% 27%
2017 21 63 31 36

Publication Source: Managed Care, May 2014 Data Source: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics

International care issues similar to those in the US

Many countries face similar health and health care concerns. The United States, aside from the absolute cost of care, is not that different in its search for improvements in health, health care, innovation and the rapidly rising rates of health care costs. Here is a sample from across the globe as reported by the Commonwealth Fund.


Prices of Generic Drugs Reduced Under Australian Government Reforms

The price of more than 1,000 different generic drugs was reduced in April as part a series of reforms to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, an Australian government program that provides subsidized prescription drugs to all residents. [Read more]


Legislation to Regulate the Price of Generic Drugs Introduced in British Columbia and Ontario

The government of British Colombia has introduced legislation to reduce the price of generic drugs after a failed price regulation deal with the pharmacy industry. [Read more]

Doctors Now Able to Use Mobile Devices to Access Patient Records

Doctors and other authorized health professionals can now use mobile devices to access their patients’ records for hospital visits, treatments and procedures, and tests and hospital lab results at 28 hospitals across the Hamilton region and other parts of southern Ontario. [Read more]


Agreement Signed to Strengthen Role of Pharmacist in France

Three unions representing pharmacists in France signed an agreement with the national health insurance plans to strengthen the role of pharmacists in improving the quality of medication management and providing support for patients. [Read more]


Dutch Patients to Pay for Out-of-Network Care

Health Minister Edith Schippers announced that health insurers will no longer be required to cover medical bills in full if patients go to a provider who is outside their health insurance network. [Read more]

New Zealand

Asthma New Zealand Launches New Smartphone Application

A new application for smartphones allows asthma patients in New Zealand to better monitor their health. [Read more]

United Kingdom

U.K. Health Secretary Underscores Importance of Empowering Local Groups

In response to concerns that the National Health Service (NHS) Commissioning Board Authority will increase its own responsibilities, the U.K. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley recently emphasized the importance of decentralizing power in the NHS in a letter to the chairman. [Read more]


Statin costs 400 percent higher in US than UK: BUMC

In the United States, the cost paid for statins (drugs to lower cholesterol) in people under the age of 65 who have private insurance is approximately 400 percent higher than comparable costs paid by the government in the United Kingdom (U.K.). These findings, from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, are the first results of a comprehensive comparison of prescription drug costs between the U.S. and U.K. The study appears on-line in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

 Expenditures for prescription drugs remain a large part of the ongoing debate on the costs of medical care in the U.S. and U.K. Because of the many complex and interactive variables that contribute to these costs, well-defined estimates of the actual and relative usage and costs for the two countries have not been reliably documented.

Data for this study came from two large electronic medical databases, one in each country. Costs were derived from private health insurance claims in the U.S., while the costs were originated from a general practice research database constructed in 1990 in the U.K.

The study is based upon a 2005 sample of 280,000 people age 55-64 in each country. Statins were prescribed to an estimated 32.7 percent of people in the U.S. and 24.4 percent in the U.K. In the U.S. the estimated annual cost of statins ranged from a high of $1,428 for simvastatin (generic unavailable), to a low of $314 for lovastatin (available in generic formulation). In the U.K. the annual cost varied from a high of $500 for atorvastatin (generic not available), to a low of $164 for simvastatin (available in generic). The estimated cost per pill was at least twice as high for each statin prescribed in both countries.

When the annual cost for each annual statin user together with the number of users were combined, the total estimated cost for statin users was $69.5 million in people covered by private insurance companies in the U.S. The total estimated annual cost for statin users covered by the government in the U.K. was $15.7 million.

“In addition to differences in overall statin use and per unit costs, another significant factor contributing to the disparity of costs appears to be the availability and utilization of generics,” said lead author Hershel Jick, MD, Director Emeritus of BUSM’s Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program and associate professor of medicine at BUSM.

According to the researchers, simvastin was approved in the U.S. for sale in generic formulation in late June 2006. Accordingly, within the next six months more than 60 percent of users switched from the brand preparation to the generic. The resultant estimated cost was reduced more than 60 percent. According to the researchers, however, it still was four times higher than that in the U.K.

January 9, 2012 | Categories: Cost,drugs,healthcare | Tags: , , , , , | Comments (0)

US drug prices outstrip other medical costs-GAO

Drug prices rise 6.6 pct/year in 2006-2010

Medical consumer price index rises 3.8 pct/year

LOS ANGELES, March 14 (Reuters) – U.S. prices for brand-name prescription drugs rose at a faster rate than costs for other medical goods and services over the last four years, according to a new U.S. government report.

The nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the “usual and customary” price index for the top 100 commonly used drugs increased by an annual average of 6.6 percent from 2006 through the first quarter of 2010, compared with a 3.8 percent average annual increase in the consumer price index for medical goods and services.

The basket of drugs contained 55 brand-name medicines and 45 generic drugs.

Prices for the brand-name drugs rose by an annual average of 8.3 percent, while prices for the generics fell by 2.6 percent annually, according to the report.

Read more here:

Prescription Drugs: Generic Utilization Rates


  2005 2007
Overall 40.7% 50.6%
Employer 33.8% 43.7%
Part D n/a* 55.2%
Uninsured 41.2% 56.4%


*not applicable, Part D not in effect

Source: Goedken AM, Urmie J, Farris KB, Doucette WR. “Impact of cost sharing on prescription drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries.” Reseach in Social and Administrative Pharmacy; 2010(6):100-109.

December 4, 2010 | Categories: drugs,healthcare | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)

A Primer on PBMs and Drug Cost

Dick Quinn has an excellent piece on the drug industry.

The AARP is exercised because drug company and pharmacy benefit manager profits are up. Surely there must be something amiss if these organizations are making money, er that is “windfall profits.”  On the other hand, could it be that profits are rising because Americans are taking more prescription drugs. Campbell Soup’s profit is up too (64%), but on lower sales. No doubt there is a great tomato soup plot we should all be concerned about.

Read more here:

September 7, 2010 | Categories: Cost,drugs,healthcare | Tags: , , , , | Comments (0)

Generics Save Money – Here’s the data over 10 years

Generics account for $824B of the past decade’s health care savings
Dispensing of generic drugs saved the health care system more than $824 billion during the past decade, according to data from IMS Health. The health-information company found that about 75% of prescriptions dispensed last year were for generics. blog (7/26)

July 27, 2010 | Categories: drugs,healthcare | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

Cardiologists Say Generics Better

Omaha World-Herald
April 12, 2010

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center researchers have determined that one name-brand atrial fibrillation drug is actually half as effective as its generic equivalent.

Generic amiodarone also shows no more side effects than the more expensive Dronedarone, which the Cedars-Sinai report characterizes as a second- or third-line treatment option.

For complete story, click here.