PCMA: New IQVIA Institute Report Shows Declining Net Spending on Prescription Drugs

(Washington, D.C.) — The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) released the following statement on a new report from the IQVIA Institute that shows net prescription spending is decreasing in settings in which pharmacy benefit management (PBM) tools are widely used.

Focusing only on retail and mail/specialty pharmacy distribution, net spending declined by 2.1% in 2017, according to the report. Spending increased in 2017 through channels not managed by PBMs.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Net retail prescription spending declined in 2017: In retail and mail/specialty pharmacies, where PBM tools are used, the report shows net spending – including the combined impact of drug prices, generic vs. brand drug use, and the overall number of prescriptions – declined by 2.1% last year. However, in non-retail settings, like hospitals and clinics, spending grew by 5.9% and represented one-third of overall spending in 2017.
  • Both list and net prices on brand prescriptions continue to increase: Manufacturer list prices on brand prescriptions increased 6.9% in 2017. However, factoring the impact of rebates and discounts negotiated by PBMs, statutory Medicaid rebates, and other factors, net brand drug price growth was 1.9% and is projected to remain in the 1–4% range over the next five years.
  • Opioid prescriptions declined sharply: Opioid prescriptions declined by 10.2% per month in 2017, the largest decrease ever.
  • Generic drug utilization rate increasing: Generic dispensing rose to 90% of prescriptions in 2017, up from 72% in 2008.

Separate research shows PBMs reduce drug costs by 30 percent for more than 266 million Americans enrolled in private and public plans, most notably Medicare Part D. In addition, PBMs are on track to reduce prescription drug coverage costs by $654 billion over the next decade for government and commercial payers.