New data put medicine costs and spending in context

A new era of medicine is when breakthrough science is transforming patient care and enabling us to more effectively treat chronic diseases.

Holly Campbell
Holly CampbellJune 26, 2017

New data put medicine costs and spending in context.

We are in a new era of medicine where breakthrough science is transforming patient care and enabling us to more effectively treat chronic diseases, like cancer and diabetes, which are the biggest cost driver in our health care system.

In the midst of this tremendous progress, medicine costs are growing at the slowest rate in years. In fact, after factoring in discounts and rebates, prices for brand medicines increased just 3.5 percent last year and total spending on medicines increased just 4.8 percent last year.

Yet, too often these negotiated savings are not shared with patients who are increasingly being asked to pay more out of pocket.

Our newly released Prescription Medicines: Costs in Context explains how robust negotiation and competition in the marketplace help to keep costs under control and highlights how too often negotiated savings do not make their way to patients. Stories of patients who struggle to access their medicines are why biopharmaceutical companies are working with private health insurers to implement new payment arrangements for medicines that treat a variety of diseases. Our industry is committed to working with policymakers to advance solutions that further enhance the private marketplace, lower costs for patients and promote continued medical innovation. 

Must-know facts include:

  • Treating people with one or more chronic condition consumes 90 cents of every dollar spent on health care.

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  • Multiple sources confirm 2016 spending growth was between 3 and 5 percent.

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  • Spending on retail and physician-administered medicines continues to represent just 14 percent of spending.

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  • Spending on prescription medicines is a small percentage of total health care spending around the world.

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  • Biopharmaceutical companies invested about $75 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2015 and, on average, reinvest 20 percent of revenues into R&D.

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