From September 2011 to September 2012, prescription sales in the U.S. totaled $326 billion, a 0.8 percent increase from the previous 12 months. The growth rate was the lowest in recent history. The authors attribute this slowing to modest increases in expenditures for new products (3.3 percent) and pricing of existing products (5.9 percent), coupled with a marked decline in overall volume and mix (less than 8.4 percent).
Retail pharmacies, mail-order pharmacies and clinics accounted for the majority of prescription expenditures. Oncology medications and biologics continue to be large and important expenditures for hospitals and clinics. Antineoplastic agents were the top medication expenditures in nonfederal hospitals in 2012, accounting for 15.1 percent of all hospital drug expenditures in 2012, while oncology products accounted for 32.2 percent of drug expenditures in clinics during the first nine months of 2012.
Hoffman noted the significant number of expensive cancer therapies that have been approved in recent years. "We have reached a new threshold where a course of treatment for some new cancer therapies can cost more than $100,000, which illustrates the growing challenge oncology drug costs present to hospitals and clinics," he said.
Hoffman added that several other developments will influence prescription drug expenditures in coming years, including the Food and Drug Administration's implementation of an approval process for biosimilars and other actions that facilitate the introduction of generic drugs into the medication pipeline. Although unresolved issues remain, the introduction of biosimilars will present a new cost savings opportunity for the health system, but biosimilars are not expected to influence drug costs in 2013.ASHP has published this report since 1992, with Hoffman leading the team producing it since 2004. Data for the analysis were obtained from the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives (NSP) database. The NSP sample is derived from more than 1.5 billion annual transactions from more than 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers and more than 700 distribution centers.