Prescription drug spending for those with employer-sponsored insurance increased by 3.8% in 2016, compared with a rise of 5.2% in 2015, according to pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.

Commercial plans managed by Express Scripts saw the cost of prescription drugs rise by 2.5% per person, while utilization was up by 1.3%, which adds up to the 3.8% overall increase. That represents a 27% drop from 2015, when drug costs rose 2.0% and use went up by 3.2%, Express Scripts said in its “2016 Drug Trend Report.”

Breaking down the cost by drug type, spending on specialty drugs – those that may have “frequent dosing adjustments or intensive clinical monitoring, intensive patient training and compliance assistance, limited distribution, and specialized handling or administration” – increased by 13.3% in 2016, which was the smallest rise since 2003. Spending on traditional drugs, which make up almost two-thirds of total spending, decreased by 1.0% in 2016, the report noted.

For a second consecutive year, patients of pharmacy plans managed by Express Scripts had a smaller out-of-pocket share of their total pharmacy costs, 14.6%, compared with 14.8% in 2015. That smaller share did represent an increase from $11.25 in 2015 to $11.34 in 2016, however, as the adjusted total cost per prescription rose from $75.85 to $77.84, Express Scripts said.

The company is the largest pharmacy benefits manager in the country, according to its corporate overview, processing 1.4 billion prescriptions annually for 85 million people.


You May Also Like