National trends in prescription drug expenditures and projections for 2018

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PurposeHistorical trends and factors likely to influence future pharmaceutical expenditures are discussed, and projections are made for drug spending in 2018 in nonfederal hospitals, clinics, and overall (all sectors).MethodsDrug expenditure data through calendar year 2017 were obtained from the IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS) National Sales Perspectives database and analyzed. New drug approvals, patent expirations, and other factors that may influence drug spending in hospitals and clinics in 2018 were also reviewed. Expenditure projections for 2018 for nonfederal hospitals, clinics, and overall (all sectors) were made based on a combination of quantitative analyses and expert opinion.ResultsTotal U.S. prescription sales in the 2017 calendar year were $455.9 billion, a 1.7% increase compared with 2016. The top drug based on expenditures was adalimumab ($17.1 billion), followed by insulin glargine and etanercept. Prescription expenditures in nonfederal hospitals totaled $34.2 billion, a 0.7% decrease in 2017 compared with 2016. Expenditures in clinics increased 10.9%, to a total of $70.8 billion. The decrease in spending in nonfederal hospitals was driven by lower utilization. The top 25 drugs by expenditures in nonfederal hospitals and clinics were dominated by specialty drugs.ConclusionWe project a 3.0–5.0% increase in total drug expenditures across all settings, a 11.0–13.0% increase in clinics, and a 0.0–2.0% increase in hospital drug spending in 2018. Health-system pharmacy leaders should carefully examine their own local drug utilization patterns to determine their own organization's anticipated spending in 2018.

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