With 2017 behind us, it is time to look ahead at what should be another tumultuous year in specialty pharmacy. It is expected that high drug costs will again gain the attention of the industry in the upcoming year.
In a report released in December 2017 by the AARP Public Policy Institute, prescription drug costs were found to be growing at a significantly higher rate than that of inflation. List price increases surpassed the rate of inflation each year from 2006 to 2015. In 2015, there was a 15.5% jump in the average list price for branded drugs, and a 9.6% increase for specialty drugs, while generic drug costs dropped nearly 20%. As such, the authors of the report concluded that Americans may not be able to rely on lower-cost generic drugs to offset the rising prices of branded and specialty drugs.
As a result, there are a number of measures being explored at both the state and federal levels in hopes of ensuring patients are able to gain access to high-cost, potentially lifesaving specialty drugs. Several states have pursued transparency bills that would require manufacturers to release data on the cost of research and development, manufacturing, and advertising before setting the prices of new drugs or changing the costs of existing treatments.
The challenge of cost inflation can be expected to take center stage should lawmakers in Washington, DC, successfully pass legislation that reforms the Affordable Care Act. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, an estimated 27 million Americans experienced a cost increase for 1 or more prescription medications. Such price hikes can cause patients to ration pills or forgo their prescriptions altogether due to cost. This is a challenge the industry must address to ensure patients are taking the right medication at the right time.
A potential solution to this growing problem is presented on page 17 by Christopher Ogurchak, PharmD, MSPBA, who examines the need for specialty pharmacies to utilize generic specialty products as a means to navigate the cost-centric challenges associated with branded originator products.
Escalating drug costs are just one of myriad issues that could affect the bottom line for specialty pharmacies in the year ahead. For deeper insight into these trends, be sure to read the article on page 6,
“Top Trends for 2018 in Specialty” by Dan Steiber, RPh, our editor-in-chief. In addition to drug costs, the topics of value-based care, the 340B program, and direct and indirect remuneration fees are featured prominently among the trends that will shape the next 12 months.
Staying ahead of these trends remains our central focus here in this journal and on our daily news website, specialtypharmacytimes.com. Follow us online, in print, and in our e-newsletters. Sign up at
specialtypharmacytimes.com/link/1306 to ensure your pharmacy is ready to flourish in 2018.
Thank you for reading.
Mike Hennessy, Sr
Chairman & CEO