All Eyes on the Pipeline

Specialty Pharmacy Times, September/October 2015, Volume 6, Issue 5

As we enter the final stretch of 2015, specialty drugs continue their ascendance to the top of the health care food chain.

Over the past 5 years, specialty drug spending has grown by $54 billion, which represents 73% of overall medication spending growth during that period, according to a report released earlier this year by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. With so much growth among these complex therapies, it has never been more important to closely monitor developments in the specialty drug pipeline.

Specialty drugs currently make up nearly half of the late-stage pipeline, up from just 33% 10 years ago, according to IMS. The impact of the specialty pipeline was surely felt last year, as newly approved specialty drugs accounted for $20.3 billion in spending growth last year, largely as a result of new treatments for hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and diabetes.

In the waning days of 2015, specialty drugs should continue to dominate the conversation with an increasing number of eyeballs fixed on the pipeline. As we do each quarter, our latest issue of Specialty Pharmacy Times brings you the latest developments in the specialty pipeline with another update from Aimee Tharaldson, PharmD, of Express Scripts.

I urge you to read her article, which notes that the FDA is expected to approve several new specialty drugs before we close the book on 2015. Among these are new treatments for cancer, orphan conditions, asthma, and perhaps most importantly, additional biosimilars and competitor hepatitis C drugs, both of which could help rein in problematic high drug costs.

Among other articles of importance in our new issue is the latest editorial from Dan Steiber, RPh, our esteemed editor-in-chief, who takes a look at the supply chain for these products once they graduate from the pipeline to the market. The approval of new drugs is typically followed by a debate over pricing and access to these therapies.

I urge you to read the new article by Marc O’Connor of Curant Health, who takes a look at this issue through the ongoing debate raging around PCSK9 inhibitors and the high cost for these cholesterol-lowering breakthrough treatments.

Staying on top of the latest developments on the specialty landscape is our mission in the print edition of Specialty Pharmacy Times and our daily news web site, www.SpecialtyPharmacyTimes.com, which keeps you abreast of all the latest news you need to know. Follow our coverage in print, online, in our e-newsletters, and on mobile devices. We also invite you to share our articles, news, and commentaries with your colleagues throughout the profession. SPT