It is an undeniable fact that the prescription drug prices have been rising dramatically since more than two decades now. One of the most contentious issues that have taken the prescription drug market by storm is the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs.
Both consumers and policymakers continue to stay affected by the issue and need measures to control the prescription drug spending. Studies reveal that prescription drug spending is estimated to grow at an average of 6.3% per year from 2016 to 2025.
This article highlights the key trends in prescription drug spending in the nation.
- Since the 1980s, the spending on prescription drugs has increased considerably in the U.S. The growth continued from 1980s to the early 2000s, followed by slow growth for a couple of years. Afterward, from 2014 the country saw a continuing rise in the prescription drugs spending.
- $3,337 billion were spent in the U.S. in 2016 on national health expenditures which accounts to about 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Out of this amount, a whopping spent of $329 billion was made on prescription drugs alone.
- In 2018, prescription drugs spending in the country is estimated to outstrip growth in other areas of the healthcare sector.
- One of the key factors that have contributed to the growth in prescription drug spending is the cost per unit of the drugs. Even though cost per unit increases with time, the introduction of new therapies at high per unit costs, new brand drugs and increase in the prices of generic drugs have been some major reasons for the increase in cost per unit of prescription drugs.
- A major part of the prescription drug spending in the U.S. include specialty drug spending. These drugs are the ones used for treating chronic or complex health conditions. After almost doubling in 2013-14, Speciality Drug Spending saw a decrease in 2014-15, after which it significantly increased in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Currently, the spending is expected to increase furthermore, impacting the prescription drug spending too.
- Mental health-related drugs also have an impact on prescription drug spending. With an increase in mental illnesses and with prescriptions for mental health-related drugs increasing by over 6.8% each year, the rise in overall prescription drug spending in the country is apparent.
- Growing awareness about mental illnesses and their treatments are believed to be the chief contributors in this rise in mental health-related drugs spend. Additionally, the increased cost of drugs like antipsychotic drugs has added to the spending. The costs may come down with the increase in spending, but that’s a trend which is still awaited.
- Another trend in the prescription drug spending that has been observed countrywide is the struggle that many patients have to make to afford these high-cost drugs. As per studies, 1 in every four patients faces difficulty in affording prescription drugs in the country.
- In this day and age, where patients find it easier to order medicines online, shopping for prescription drugs from the ease of your home has become a rising trend. People order their prescription drugs without having to visit pharmacies in search of the drugs that they need. This ease has led to a substantial increase in the total prescription drug spending in the U.S.