Drug spend to jump 7.3% for health systems in 2018: 4 report findings

Health systems will see a 7.35 percent price increase for drug purchases through mid- 2019, according to estimates from Vizient's January 2018 Drug Price Forecast.

Vizient's report outlines various factors driving price and practice changes in the drug industry. To compile the report, the Irving, Texas-based group purchasing organization analyzed drug purchasing data for its member hospitals and nonacute care providers from Sept. 1, 2016, through Aug. 31, 2017. Forecasts are based on drug price changes over the last three years, current knowledge of contract allowances, and market factors like expiring patents and upcoming competition.

Here are four report takeaways.

1. Biosimilars. The FDA approved nine biosimilars in 2017, but only three hit the market. While the industry is still slow to adopt these drugs, Vizient predicts the U.S. healthcare system will save an estimated $54 billion over the next decade by using biosimilars.

2. Nonopioid pain medications. Healthcare is turning to many nonopioid analgesics to manage postoperative pain amid the ongoing opioid epidemic. New formulations of these drugs are substantially more expensive than older versions.

3. Specialty pharmacy services. The FDA approved 42 novel drugs as of Dec. 18, nearly 80 percent of which were considered "specialty." The proportion of drug spend attributable to specialty drugs continues to rise, and will likely not stop anytime soon, according to Vizient.

4. Insulin. Diabetes patients account for about 20 percent of all healthcare spend, according to Vizient. The cost of short-acting insulins has jumped 290 percent over the last 10 years. As a result, insulin manufacturers are facing heightened scrutiny from both consumers and Congress to lower prices.

To view the full report, click here.

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