Pharmacy Times® interviewed Steven Lucio, vice president of Pharmacy Solutions at Vizient, on the ways that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected hospital spending this year, which is projected to result in an increase in drug spending for 2021.

The discussion included how specialty drug prices are expected to change in 2021, what the expected effect of biosimilars will be on hospital spending, how spending on home infusion therapies is expected to change, and the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected spending on the top 10 vaccines and what this may mean for next year.

Lucio explained that although there’s a great deal of scrutiny on potential COVID-19 vaccines, it’s critical to focus on all the vaccines available in order to make sure people do take, for example, the flu vaccine this flu season.

“It's very important to look at what actually happened during the initial outbreak when it comes to vaccines because a lot of preventative care primary care visits did not take place because clinics were closed down. Resources were diverted to take care of the sickest people. So whether it's the administration of vaccines or other diagnostic procedures, we're now having to catch up with those things to make sure that as much as possible overall care is not disrupted, or we can catch up with the level of care that is required,” Lucio said.

Lucio also discussed how it might be possible to address some of the weaknesses in the pharmaceutical supply chain that are being exacerbated by the pandemic, whether there is anything pharmacists can do to prepare for the effects of some of these expected drug spending changes in 2021, and what the value of the pharmacist is in supporting health care systems when facing these upcoming challenges.