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US annual spending on drugs rose 12.2% in 2015 – IMS

Published on 15/04/16 at 09:29am

The total US spending on prescription drugs rose 12.2% to almost $425 billion in 2015 on the back of new launches in therapies for cancer and hepatitis C, and as prices for other products shot up, according to a report.

As the voices of dissent grow louder calling for stricter regulation in the sector to control blatant price hikes, the study by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has forecast spending to continue to jump to 22% by 2020.

However, on an annual basis spending growth rate remained below 14.2% in the previous year.  

Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said: β€œThe challenge of balancing access and the cost of care in an era of innovative but more expensive treatments continues as a theme across our healthcare system. The level of price concessions achieved in 2015 points to a shift in market dynamics as manufacturers accept lower price increases on existing products. At the same time, spending on new brands continued at near-historic levels.”

On a wholesale price basis, US spending is expected to rise 46% to as high as $640 billion in 2020, IMS said.

"That reflects the new dynamics in the marketplace, where we have heightened competition in several major therapy areas, including diabetes, with manufacturers taking price concessions through rebates," Aitken said.

The average net price rise for branded drugs stood at 2.8% in 2015, against 12.4% considering the wholesale prices, IMS said.

In the cancer segment, IMS said drug spending grew 18% to $39.1 billion in 2015. Spending on treatments for autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, rose almost 29% to $30.2 billion.

Further, more than half of spending growth was derived from drugs approved within the past two years, and specialty therapies for cancer, hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis, accounted for $151 billion of the total spend, a 20% jump against 2014.

Anjali Shukla

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