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Vizient report warns of 7% drug price hike in 2018 - 2019

According to new report by Vizient, providers will be staring down even higher drug prices in 2018 and 2019. Vizient's January 2018 Drug Price Forecast is predicting a a 7.35 percent price increase for pharmaceutical purchases made from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Categorizing the increase as a "slightly moderated level of growth," Vizient said it's actually thanks to fewer large price hikes combined with the buffering effect of the moderation in costs associated with certain specialty drugs, like those for hepatitis C. But providers need to take notice.

"While slightly lower, this increase still represents a substantial impact, especially given the use of many high-cost drugs across our members," said Dan Kistner, senior vice president, pharmacy solutions for Vizient.

Since drug prices have been on an upswing for some time now, Vizient is pushing the evaluation and increased use of biosimilars as a remedy. They said members spend the most on "disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs," where substantial biosimilar competition already exists, and on oncology drugs where it is expected to rise in 2019. Failing to capitalize on competition for therapeutically similar products would be a waste of an opportunity to influence drug spending, Vizient said.

The report also highlighted other major pharmaceutical trends. For instance, specialty pharmaceuticals account for a continually increasing amount of spending spend. As of December 18, 2017, the FDA had approved 42 novel drugs, roughly 80 percent of which could be considered "specialty" medications.

"All providers with substantial spend on specialty pharmaceuticals must continue to collect objective evidence of the superior patient care delivery and medication adherence possible through an integrated approach to specialty pharmacy."

Conversely, the savings associated with the use of biosimilars in the U.S. is predicted to reach $54 billion over the next 10 years. At the end of 2017, three approved biosimilars were marketed in the U.S. Five others were approved but are not yet on the market. However, some payers designated the original, branded medications as "preferred" within their formularies which had a somewhat chilling effect.

Also as the country grapples with the opioid crisis and the battle to manage pain, the development of nonopioid analgesics is shining a ray of hope, however these formulations however are significantly more expensive than older formulations. Therefore, standardizing opioid-prescribing methods for discharge following surgery is still a crucial method of mitigating chronic opioid abuse associated with postsurgical pain management.

The Vizient Drug Price Forecast is based on data from Vizient's Pharmacy Program, which compiles member participants' purchases in hospital and non-acute care settings. Vizient based their inflation estimates for the forecast period on past price changes during the last 36 months and current knowledge of contract allowances and marketplace factors.

"The latest Drug Price Forecast highlights the ongoing market dynamics that continue to contribute to rising pharmaceutical costs and exacerbate the challenge of managing health system pharmacy expenses," said Kistner. "Pharmacy and C-suite leaders must collaborate and strategically address these issues by implementing cost-saving and quality optimization measures. They must also leverage their voices in advocacy to address the more systematic issues including drug shortages and high-cost medications."

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