| April 14
April 14 U.S. spending on prescription medicines
jumped 13 percent to $374 billion in 2014, the biggest
percentage increase since 2001, as demand surged for expensive
new breakthrough hepatitis C treatments, a report released on
Demand for newer cancer and multiple sclerosis treatments,
price increases on branded medicines, particularly insulin
products for diabetes, and the entry of few new generic versions
of big-selling drugs also contributed to the double-digit
spending rise in 2014, the report by IMS Health Holdings Inc
IMS, a U.S. health care information and technology company,
does not foresee a similar U.S. spending jump on prescription
medicines this year.
"We certainly expect to see growth in the market size and
spending level in 2015, but not at the rate of growth that we're
reporting for 2014," said Murray Aitken, executive director of
the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which compiled the
"We know that the patent expiry impact will be larger in
2015 than it was last year," he said.
New hepatitis C treatments from Gilead Sciences Inc
that virtually guarantee a cure for the liver-destroying virus,
with few side effects, led more than 161,000 patients to start
treatment in 2014, IMS said. That compares to just 17,000 in
2013, when thousands put off treatment while waiting for the new
Gilead reported a record-breaking $10.3 billion in
first-year sales of Sovaldi as the $1,000-a-pill drug became the
poster child for intense criticism of the high cost of new
The report also noted the large number of so-called orphan
drugs that made it to the market in 2014, with the introduction
of 18 expensive medicines for rare diseases.
Meanwhile, the entry of new generic versions of branded
drugs reduced spending by only about $12 billion in 2014,
compared to an impact of about $20 billion the year before and
$29 billion in savings in 2012, when cheap generic versions of
Pfizer Inc's top-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor began
to flood the market.
The lesser savings from generic drugs in 2014 was due in
part to U.S. Food and Drug Administration sanctions against
India's Ranbaxy that delayed cheap versions of AstraZeneca Plc's
blockbuster heartburn drug Nexium.
IMS, which compiles U.S. prescription drug data for the
industry, also tracked the impact of the Affordable Care Act on
medicine usage, noting a significant rise in prescriptions
filled through government Medicaid programs. While those rose by
about 17 percent overall, the increase was 25 percent in the 28
states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under ACA.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Richard Chang)