Express Scripts 1999 drug trend report: Seniors hit hardest by record 17.4-Percent prescription drug spending increase

ST. LOUIS, MO, June 27, 2000 -- Spending on prescription drugs increased a record 17.4 percent last year, with senior citizens 70 years or older seeing the biggest cost increases per prescription. Higher prescription costs and greater drug utilization drove the spending increase, which was less for plan sponsors that actively managed their pharmacy benefits.

These are among the findings included in the 1999 Drug Trend Report, released today by Express Scripts Inc. at its annual Outcomes Conference. The company is the nation's largest independent pharmacy benefit manager, serving more than 38 million Americans.

According to the report, the average cost of a prescription rose 9.6 percent in 1999, reflecting the effect of higher prices and other factors.* Greater prescription drug utilization and, to a lesser extent, new drugs were responsible for the remainder of the spending increase. The result was a per-member-per-year (PMPY) average wholesale price (AWP) ingredient cost of $387.09 in 1999, up from $329.83 in 1998 (AWP does not reflect retail network discounts, mail discounts, dispensing fees and member contributions).

Analysis of a sample of the Express Scripts drug trend database showed the average cost of a prescription rising most rapidly for seniors 70 and above by 14.0 percent in the 70 to 79-year bracket and by 16.4 percent for those 80 and above.

At the Express Scripts Outcomes Conference, researchers reported on a study of prescription utilization patterns among seniors. Included in the study were more than 52,000 continuously enrolled seniors covered under commercial plans and over 20,000 enrollees of a Medicare + Choice plan. The Medicare + Choice plan portion of this study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Changes in Health Care Organization and Financing Program.

Plan participants aged 65 or older enrolled in commercial health plans used an average of 29 prescriptions per year, more than four times th

Contact: Ryan Soderstrom
Kupper Parker Communications

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