Overall annual drug spending for consumers covered by commercial health plans will increase 10-13 percent over the next three years, according to an Express Scripts study of those using its drug prescription service. For the top two categories with the highest spending increases—those treating inflammatory conditions and diabetes—increases will be 20-30 percent. Those increases reflect increases in cost and utilization.
Spending increases for oncology medications—predicted at approximately 20 percent through 2019—will result from increased utilization as patients use expensive medications as maintenance therapy. The rise in self-administered oncology medications will also contribute to this upward trend in costs.
Notably, the study found that spending for hepatitis C drugs will continue to decline as patients have increased access to these drugs and unit costs decline.
Drug Spending Forecast, Percent Change, 2017-19