Concerned About Specialty Drugs?

Concerned About Specialty Drugs?

In the last two decades, the number of available specialty pharmaceuticals increased from 10 to over 900.  While that’s potentially very good news for patients who can benefit from these drugs to manage – or even reverse – their condition, the explosion in the number of specialty drugs has been paralleled by the explosion in their costs.
Employers and other health care purchasers are increasingly concerned about how to balance ensuring access to these drugs with the rising costs – with good reason.  As reporting last summer in US News and World Report, specialty drugs can come with breath-taking price tags.  “Two of the costliest specialty drugs are the Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, which costs $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment, and the heart drug Juxtapid, which costs $30,000 for a one-month supply.”  [Emphasis added.]  The article went on to observe that “If these drugs are really given to the number of people who are candidates for them, the cost will be astronomical….”

While we can’t say that we have or know of a solution to the cost challenge of specialty drugs, we can point you to a publication that provides some strategies that should not be overlooked.  In November, Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) released its guide Specialty Pharmacy: What Purchasers Need to Know to help employers and other health care purchasers understand the complex and evolving field of specialty pharmacy and identify various opportunities for maximizing the value of their spending in this area.  In addition to some background information that employer-purchasers should understand, the guide offers important background information and outlines key design considerations for a specialty pharmacy

management strategy.   We recommend it.