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CVS: prescription drug trend grew 3.8%

Staff writer |
CVS Caremark released its annual Insights report, which reviews drug trend and highlights key issues in pharmacy care. In 2013, prescription drug trend grew 3.8 percent compared to nearly flat growth (0.1 percent) in 2012.

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This growth was driven by significant price inflation for traditional brand drugs, specialty drugs and generics as well as a significant increase in utilization as members filled more prescriptions in the slowly improving economy.

The CVS Caremark Insights report analyzes these trends and outlines a number of strategies health care payers can adopt to help manage prescription drug spending. Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded vs. generic drugs.

While spending for traditional medications was up just 0.8 percent in 2013, this compares to a trend that actually declined 3.8 percent in 2012. The driver of overall trend in 2013 was specialty medications which grew by 15.6 percent.

Specialty drugs treat more complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C and cancer. Overall, specialty drugs now represent nearly 22.5 percent of total drug spend among CVS Caremark clients, a relative increase of more than ten percent in a single year.

The company also reported a record generic dispensing rate (GDR) of 81.4 percent in 2013. While the generic pipeline is dwindling over the next few years, CVS Caremark analysis indicates that not every client has truly maximized their existing generic opportunities, leaving continued room for improvement and savings.

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