The 2020 Drug Forecast: A First-time Analysis of Specialty Drug Price Inflation Rates

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Specialty Pharmacy By the Numbers

Specialty pharmaceuticals continue to dominate drug approvals and purchasing. They also continue to dominate pharmaceutical costs. In response, the 2020 Drug Price Forecast includes for the first time an analysis of specialty drug price inflation rates for biologic and non-biologic products.

Our Methodology: Analyzing 108 Unique Specialty Drugs and 270 NDCs

To create this new projection, we included drugs on limited distribution lists that either have an orphan drug designation or would cost at least $4,000 per patient per month. Our analysis included 108 unique drugs and 270 NDCs that meet this criteria. Similar to the method used for the overall forecast, we applied projections based on historical price trends, market conditions, and member spend. We also subdivided the line items into biologic and non-biologic categories based on the type of FDA approval the drug received.

This methodology resulted in an average 3.36% predicted price inflation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, prices of biologic medications are expected to increase more quickly than those of non-biologics. The overall specialty drug inflation rate is similar to the general drug inflation rate of 3.59% we have predicted for this time period. However, since the prices of specialty drugs tend to be higher than those of non-specialty medications, this inflation rate suggests that health system specialty pharmacies will likely need to increase their drug budgets.
Estimated specialty drug price inflation rates

The Message for Health Systems: Expand Your Specialty Pharmacy Expertise

The numbers speak for themselves. Specialty drugs account for only 2.2% of total prescription volume while representing 49.5% of total drug spend. This gap will continue to increase as new specialty drugs are approved. The message for health systems is loud and clear: Expand your expertise and capabilities in specialty pharmacy services. If you don’t, you risk losing the ability to manage your patients’ care holistically.

The dynamics of the specialty pharmacy landscape and structure of the investigational drug pipeline reflect the continued importance of specialty pharmaceuticals and the absolute necessity of a defined specialty pharmacy strategy for health systems. At Acentrus Specialty, we continue to enhance our offerings to address this market and provide solutions to the challenges facing our network clients. We know that the health systems and hospitals we serve must measure their success in terms of cost, quality, and market performance. This has never been more essential in the context of specialty pharmacy practice.

Pedram Pahlavan, PharmD
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Pedram Pahlavan, PharmD
As Senior Director of Specialty Pharmacy, Pedram Pahlavan develops, implements, and maintains a health system-centric specialty pharmacy solution for Acentrus Specialty clients.