CVS Caremark: People Spent More on Specialty Medicines in 2013

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

CVS Caremark Corp.¬†(NYSE:CVS)¬†released its annual “Insights” report Thursday in a press release. The report reviews drug trends identifies key issues in pharmacy care.

The report found that the prescription drug trend — the measure of growth in prescription drug spending per member per month — rose 3.8 percent in 2013. CVS Caremark’s press release notes that this is in comparison with a nearly flat growth the year previous; in 2012, the prescription drug trend grew by only about 0.1 percent.

The report speculates that the growth was driven by significant price inflation for branded drugs, as well as specialty drug and generic drugs; the report also notes that due to the gradually recovering economy, more Americans have the money to fill prescriptions than in previous years.

The largest contributor to the rising prescription drug trend in 2013 was specialty medicines; spending on specialty drugs grew an astounding 15.6 percent in the last year. Examples of specialty medicines include any drug that’s been developed to treat a more complex, specific disease; multiple sclerosis medications, hepatitis C medications, and cancer drugs all fall under this category; CVS Caremark notes that specialty medicines now account for nearly 22.5 percent of total drug spending by members, a more than 10 percent increase over the course of twelve months.

“As our clients are faced with the pressure of rising prescription drug trend, CVS Caremark is well positioned to help them manage this impact through a variety of unique programs that encourage the use of lower-cost generics; improve management of specialty medications across the medical and pharmacy benefit and site of care; and control price inflation through aggressive formulary management and use of narrow networks,” said Jon Roberts, president of CVS Caremark’s pharmacy benefit management business in the press release.

CVS Caremark went on to identify seven guidelines to help clients save money given the rising prescription drug trend. The company advises clients to be aware that the prescription drug trend is up and that specialty medicines are driving the trend, and emphasizes the importance of price to members.

The company notes that narrow pharmacy networks can help lower costs to payers and that while the generics dispensing rate is at an all-time high (81.4 percent in 2013), there is still room for savings by utilizing generics to the fullest extent possible.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: