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Drug Prices, Shortages Remain Problem


The pharmacy spend increases health systems can expect.

Drugs on money

Forecast and overviews of the different market segments show that health systems and acute care providers are still challenged by the ever-increasing cost of pharmaceuticals, such as specialty and branded drugs, and by the impact of drug shortages, according to a new report.

The Vizient Drug Price Forecast, based on the analysis of data from Vizient’s Pharmacy Program, which compiles member participants’ purchases (price and volume) in hospital and non-acute care settings, found that Vizient members are spending more on high-cost brand pharmaceutical products. Health systems, including inpatient and non-acute environments, can expect a 4.57% increase for pharmaceutical purchases made from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.

“This is reflected in the slight increase of the projected inflation rate and will impact our members’ pharmaceutical budgets,” says Carina Dolan, senior director, pharmacy services, Vizient, Inc., the nation’s largest member-driven health care performance improvement company, headquartered in Irving, Texas.

Related article: The Forces Driving Specialty Drug Spending

 “Our members tell us they find value in the information, as pharmacy is an essential element in any organization’s strategic plan given its impact on the cost and quality of patient care across practice environments. Health care executives can proactively respond to rising prices by creating strategies to streamline high cost drug utilization, making preparations to adopt biosimilars and by leveraging budget data to align cost and resources.”

Dolan says that her team is closely monitoring the effect that new oncology medications are having on the acute care hospital systems’ spend.

“These drugs are specialty products that have historically flowed through the non-acute care segment, but many of the new molecules have indications that are being used in combination with intravenous treatments on the acute care side,” she says. “Procuring these specialty pharmaceuticals already can be a complicated process, and this change could dramatically increase spending for hospitals that treat oncology patients.”

The Vizient Drug Price Forecast is based on data analysis from the top 80% of member pharmacy spend (price and volume) in all classes of trade for hospitals and acute-care providers that participate in Vizient’s pharmacy program.

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