Health systems collectively will spend $2.5B more on drugs throughout the next year, Vizient says

Health systems can expect to spend 3.59 percent more on pharmaceutical purchases made between July 1 and June 30, 2021, according to Vizient's Winter 2020 Drug Price Forecast. This increase equates to more than $2.5 billion in additional spending. 

The forecast, published Jan. 29, is an analysis and projection of anticipated trends in drug pricing based on the purchasing patterns of Vizient's member organizations, including pediatric facilities, community hospitals, nonacute settings and academic medical centers. Vizient's member organizations have a total of $70 billion in drug spend. Vizient is a healthcare performance improvement company.

Here are four more takeaways from the report:

1. Specialty pharmaceuticals will continue to drive drug spending. The forecast anticipates a 3.36 percent increase in specialty drug prices for biologic and nonbiologic products. Specialty drugs, which are prescribed just 2.2 percent of the time, now account for about half, 49.5 percent, of total drug spending.

2. Pediatric drug costs will rise. Drugmakers are working on products to target rare childhood illnesses; however, these treatments are often expensive. In the pediatric area, most FDA approvals have been for gene therapies, CAR-T treatments or other specialty drugs. As a result, Vizient predicts the drug price inflation rate will rise by 3.45 percent from July 1 to June 30, 2021.

3. The most expensive drugs for hospitals will change. Based on projected price increases, new drugs will become top drivers of hospital spend. In the next year, Humira, Stelara, Enbrel, Keytruda and Cosentyx are expected to cost hospitals the most. This is a change from this year, in which Humira, Rituxan, Remicade, Keytruda and Enbrel are the top drugs by total spend. 

4. Biosimilar adoption remains key to lowering pharmaceutical spending.  Having a robust biosimilar market is critical to controlling costs, Vizient says. Given the substantial growth of approved biosimilars and those on the market, Vizient predicts 2020 will be a seminal year for biosimilar adoption.

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