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Specialty Therapies Helped Lift 2013 Medication Spending Growth (with Chart: Oncology New Molecular Entities Launched in the U.S. 2004-2013)

2.3 from 9 votes
Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Last year saw a turnaround in the use of health care services overall in the United States from 2012, according to a recent report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. And specialty drugs played a role in that trend, it contends.

The report, titled Medicine Use and Shifting Costs of Healthcare, notes that although real per capita spending growth on medicines had been slowing since 2007, “nominal spending rose sharply in 2013 from its decline in 2012.” Last year, spending on drugs increased 3.2%, up from -1.0% two years ago, or $329.2 billion.

Also among the IMS Health findings are the following:

  • The top 10 therapy areas represented 55% of the spend on medications.

  • Oncology was the leading category of spend, with $27.9 billion, up 9.2% from 2012 spending.

  • Specialty drugs represented 29% of spending on medicines in 2013, up from 23% in 2008.

  • Specialty medications “averaged 10% growth in the last 5 years, and grew by 9% in 2013.”

  • Spending on biologics rose 9.6% in 2013, representing 28% of the total spend, which is up from 21% in 2008.

One of the reasons for the overall spending gain on medicines, says IMS Health, was “the level of innovative medicines and patent expiries in major therapy areas. The largest clusters of innovation are in specialty therapy areas including oncology, hepatitis C, HIV, and autoimmune diseases, which collectively grew by 11% to $73 billion in 2013.”

The report notes that 2013 saw the launch of 36 new molecular entities (NMEs), including 10 new oncology therapies, the most launched in a decade (see box, p. 7), According to the report, “A dramatic rise has occurred in the number of cancer drug launches, with 56 NMEs launched in the last decade, two-thirds of those in the last five years and 27 of them in the last three years. In addition, further indications for existing cancer drugs have been launched, bringing proven mechanisms to new tumor populations.” One of the notable approvals was Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), which boosted progression-free survival by four months in people with HER2+ metastatic breast cancer (SPN 3/13, p. 11).

Among the NMEs launched last year were 17 orphan drugs, also the most in a decade. In fact, noted Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute, at an April 10 media briefing, that was “the most launched in any year since the passage of the Orphan Drug Act in 1983.” Approvals included TOBI Podhaler (tobramycin inhalation powder) for people with cystic fibrosis who have a particular bacteria in their lungs (SPN 4/13, p. 8); the therapy was “a remarkable improvement over the previous treatment,” contends the report. Signifor (pasireotide), approved for the treatment of Cushing’s disease in adults for whom surgery either is not an option or has not been effective, was the first FDA-approved medicine to treat the underlying cause of the endocrine disorder (SPN 1/13, p. 6). And people with the rare genetic condition homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia got two new therapies, Juxtapid (lomitapide) (SPN 1/13, p. 6) and Kynamro (mipomersen sodium) (SPN 2/13, p. 8).

During the media call, Aitken also pointed to the “significant shift” in where specialty drugs are administered. “More than half of specialty pharmaceuticals are going through retail and mail, and less than half of specialty pharmaceuticals are going through hospitals,…a dynamic we’ve been watching for the last couple of years.”

View the report at

Author: Angela Maas
Source: AIS Health
2.3 from 9 votes
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