Drug spending is climbing amid the pandemic, but not at hospitals

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The country's total drug spending rose by nearly 5 percent in 2020, but drug spending at hospitals declined by the same percentage, according to a report published April 21 by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Total U.S. drug spending was $535.3 billion in 2020. The drug spending categories that experienced the biggest increases were home healthcare (13 percent), mail-order prescriptions (9 percent) and clinics (8 percent). 

Drug spending at hospitals decreased by 5 percent, as patients delaying care amid the pandemic correlated with decreased drug utilization in hospitals.

Several new drugs that could affect the country's drug spending levels are expected to be approved in 2021, according to the report. The authors predicted total drug spending will rise by 4 to 6 percent in 2021. For clinics and hospitals, they predicted drug spending would rise by 7 to 9 percent and 3 to 5 percent, respectively.

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