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

nts in the pharmaceutical landscape. Conference attendees are also learning how cost increases can be significantly lowered by proactively managing the pharmacy benefit; some Express Scripts clients that actively manage their pharmacy benefit program have actually cut their trend in half.

The Express Scripts 1999 Drug Trend Report showed that price increases were a major factor, accounting for nearly a third of the hike in drug spending. The top 50 common branded drugs, ranked by prescriptions filled, had price increases from zero to 15.6 percent between 1998 and 1999.

New drugs played a small but significant role last year, due to the unprecedented rapid adoption of the COX-II anti-rheumatic medications Searle's Celebrex and Merck's Vioxx. "Typically, the cost impact of new drugs is initially felt in the second or third years after their introduction, but these drugs clearly were exceptions last year," explained Toan.

"As we look to the future, new drugs are expected to play an even greater role in future cost acceleration as the Human Genome Project draws toward completion," said Toan, noting that the genome project already is contributing to a remarkable acceleration of drug discovery. According to the Express Scripts 1999 Drug Trend Report, "The number and therapeutic promise of such innovations are exciting. However, the cost of these technological advances will likely be high."

Common drug utilization, which most closely reflects the impact of direct-to-consumer advertising, once again played a major role in the overall cost increase, nearly doubling in its impact on the total spending increase to 6.2 percent in 1999 from 3.8 percent in 1998. "Unlike price increases, which seemed to affect all drug classes broadly, the impact of increased utilization was concentrated in the most popular therapy classes. Americans are using more of the drugs they already use the most," said Toan. The biggest cost-increase impact due to greater utiliza

Contact: Ryan Soderstrom
Kupper Parker Communications

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