Top 8 Specialty Drug Categories Driving Spending in 2018


Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are a major contributor to specialty drug spending.

It is well-known that specialty products are a major driver of prescription drug spending, a trend that is projected to continue well into the future. The new Vizient Drug Price Forecast suggests that although drug costs are projected to increase by 7.35%, specialty pharmacies can help bring spending down even further.

“The product pipeline continues to be directed towards pharmaceuticals intended for smaller patient populations with high-acuity, chronic conditions,” the authors wrote. “Specialty pharmacy expertise remains an essential competency for providers that wish to remain successful.”

Here’s a look at how much these specialty drug categories are estimated to increase by in 2018, according to the report.

1. Antineoplastic Drugs

The report found that the cost of these drugs, which are commonly used to treat patients with cancer, will increase 4.96% in the next year.

2. Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

The authors said that DMARDs will be the largest driver of cost increases in 2018. This drug class is projected to skyrocket 11.95%. Due to the prevalence of DMARD use, this uptick in costs may have a significant impact on overall spending.

3. Immunomodulatory Agents

This class of drugs is used to treat patients with serious and debilitating conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The cost of immunomodulatory drugs is projected to increase 8.93% in 2018, according to the study.

4. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

Although HCV antiviral drugs have driven a majority of specialty spending over the past few years, it may not be the case in 2018. The cost of these treatments is only projected to increase by 2.02%, likely due to the emergence of competitors and lower cost options.

5. Immune Globulin

This drug class is only estimated to increase 3.94% in 2018, according to the study.

6. Hematopoietic Drugs

These treatments are often used to treat adverse effects from chemotherapy and other conditions, making them a crucial component of many regimens. Vizient reports that costs for hematopoietic drugs will rise 7.09% during 2018.

7. Vaccines

Notably, the cost of vaccines used to prevent pneumococcal disease and human papillomavirus are expected to increase 5.32%, according to the report.

8. Diabetes

With the growing prevalence of diabetes in the United States, access to treatment is crucial. Diabetes drug costs are projected to increase 3.62% in 2018.

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