Reviewing Oncology Rx Stats Before ASCO '13

Aug 8, 2013
Prior to the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Chicago, Express Scripts summarizes cancer pharmacy data and forecasts.
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  • Cancer

Over the next few days, researchers, clinicians and many others will gather at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.

Significant progress has been made in the fight against cancer in recent years. More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year, but deaths from the disease are down 20% in the past two decades. New medications have helped significantly increase survival rates. But the advances also come with a high price tag.

Oncology Pharmacy Trends and Forecast

Oncology drug spending continues to rise at a rapid pace, driven especially by the growing number of new, highly targeted, gene-based therapies that are now available. The Express Scripts 2012 Drug Trend Report shows:

  • Use of cancer medications within the pharmacy benefit rose 3.4% in 2012, while total spending on these drugs increased 25.8%.
  • In the next three years, spending on cancer medications is expected to climb 77%.
  • Oncology treatments ranked ninth in total U.S. spend in 2012 among all prescription-drug categories.
  • By 2015, the U.S. will spend more on prescription drugs to treat oncology than for all but three other therapy classes – diabetes, inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and multiple sclerosis.
  • Among the Medicare population, use of oncology treatments rose 11.8% and spending was up 32.8% from 2011 to 2012.

 Factors driving cancer drug costs include:

  • The Food and Drug Administration is increasingly approving more sophisticated drugs to treat cancer based on a patient’s specific genetic or proteomic profile –drugs that are often more costly than older cancer treatments.
  • The use of multiple, expensive oncology agents in succession also has become more common as cancer survival rates increase and physicians treat cancer as a chronic condition that requires additional therapies over time.
  • High inflation rates for older medications whose manufacturers may be trying to protect profit margins also may be contributing to double-digit increases.

Despite the critical nature of cancer treatments, nearly 41% of patients are non-adherent to their medication therapy. Express Scripts research found that between 23% and 74% of patients using any one of nine oral cancer drugs are at potential risk for a drug interaction that could increase the toxicity of the cancer treatment or decrease its effectiveness.

Drug Trend Data For Cancer 2012

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