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July 30, 2014
Specialty drugs and poor management dominate drug costs

Speciality drugs account for an ever-increasing portion of drug costs, according to the Express Scripts Canada (ESC) 2013 Drug Trend Report.

The drug research and pharmacy benefit management firm reports that while specialty drugs accounted for only 1.3 per cent of total claims in 2013, they represented more than 24 per cent of drug spending, up from 13 per cent in 2007.

“New specialty drug treatments are making a real difference in the lives of patients, but the high cost of some drugs creates difficult decisions for employers that have to decide which medications to cover,” says ESC president Michael Biskey.

An example can be seen in the average drug claims for cancer patients, the ESC president notes:  $10,690 per patient, compared to the Canadian average of $765 per person.

If these trends continue, plan sponsors with drug plans will likely have to either increase funding for their drug benefits or re-structure their plans to make them more cost effective, the ESC report suggests.

Up to one-third of drug benefits are wasted due to poor patient decisions, ESC notes.  Failure to take medications as prescribed, using more expensive drugs instead of less expensive alternatives such as their generic equivalent, and utilizing more expensive dispensaries add to drug cost pressures, the organization says.

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