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Covid to drive US prescription drug spending in 2021: Study

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New York, April 22 (IANS) The shifts in care related to the Covid pandemic will continue to be a significant driver of drug expenditures in 2021, along with uptake in the use of biosimilars, a large pipeline of new cancer drugs, and increased approvals of specialty medications, according to a study.

The Covid-19 pandemic heavily influenced spending on prescription drugs in the US in 2020, according to the ASHP’s (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) National Trends in Prescription Drug Expenditures and Projections for 2021.

Prescription drug spending in 2020 grew at a moderate rate of 4.9 per cent to $535.3 billion. Increased utilisation drove the growth, which accounted for 2.9 per cent of the total increase. Spending on new drugs accounted for 1.8 per cent of the increase, and price changes accounted for 0.3 per cent.

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“Reflecting the overarching impact of Covid-19 on healthcare, ASHP’s drug expenditures report illustrates the factors that can impact hospital and health-system budgets,” said Daniel J. Cobaugh, Vice President of publishing at ASHP.

“We provide this annual report to help hospital and health-system leaders, policy makers, and others understand drug expenditure patterns to anticipate future growth and spending,” Cobaugh added.

Top drugs by overall spending were the immunosuppressive adalimumab for immune disorders such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease; apixaban, a treatment to prevent blood clotting in patients with atrial fibrillation; and insulin glargine.

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As drugs approved under emergency use authorisations transition to full US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, expenditures for agents like remdesivir and monoclonal antibody cocktails will move from the federal government to the sectors where care is delivered.

Remdesivir exceeds expenditures for all drugs in non-federal hospitals, despite it only being commercially available for the final three months of 2020. In addition, approvals for several new drugs for the management of Covid-19 will affect spending in coming years.

Hospitals and health systems are also likely to see a rebound of prescription drug expenditures resulting from higher utilisation of acute care services due to patients’ reluctance to get preventative care during the pandemic.

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–IANS

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