Over the next three years, about 80 percent of drug spending will be driven by drugs in six broad therapeutic classes, according to the 2007 Drug Trend Report issued by Medco. The cardiovascular and central nervous system categories will account for almost half of the spending growth. Within these broad categories, nine specific drug classes — including diabetes drugs, lipid-lowering drugs, and antihypertensives — will account for two-thirds of spending growth over the next three years.

Medco expects that drug spending by plan sponsors will increase between 9 percent and 12 percent per year over the next three years.

These projections are computed at the average wholesale price level, unadjusted for changes in discounts, rebates, cost sharing, and federal subsidies that might occur. Prescription drug purchases account for about 10 percent of the national health care dollar, according to the report, and they account for nearly 10 percent of the projected growth in national health care costs in 2006.

Top therapeutic categories that will drive spending

According to Medco, these are the six therapeutic categories that are likely to account for most spending growth between 2007 and 2009. The data are expressed as a percentage of the total projected increase in plan cost.

The role of chronic disease

Therapeutic agents to treat chronic diseases are likely to drive the majority of spending growth between 2007 and 2009. Data are expressed as a percentage of the total projected increase in plan cost.

Source: Medco

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.