Vizient projects drug prices will increase but moderately

February 1, 2021
Christine Blank

Due to more expensive medications that treat COVID-19 and other conditions, healthcare systems’ face drug price increases starting this summer, a new report reveals. But the price increases are projected to be moderate.

Vizient’s Winter 2021 Pharmacy Market Outlook projects a 2.67% increase in the price of pharmaceuticals purchased by health systems, academic medical centers, pediatric hospitals, and nonacute practices for July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.

However, the projected price increase continues to trend slightly downward, “reflecting recent generic entrants to the market as well as increasing adoption of biosimilars,” Vizient said in a press release.

“The trend toward more moderate drug price increases is a welcome one, given the financial difficulties created by the pandemic,” said Dan Kistner, group senior vice president, pharmacy solutions for Vizient. “Even so, without question the pandemic continues to have an impact on clinical and financial outcomes.”

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Increased use of high-cost drugs vasopressin and tocilizumab as well as many critical care drugs used to treat COVID patients are continuing to impact budgets, the press release said. A new formulation of vasopressin was recently approved by the FDA and granted market exclusivity through 2035, causing its price to spike significantly, according to the Vizient press release.

The press release said substantial price decreases are expected for drugs like injectable acetaminophen; daptomycin, a commonly used antibiotic; and regadenoson, a medication used in cardiac stress testing/..

However, Vizient is projecting that the supply of albumin and other plasma-derived products are likely to tighten up this year and possibly next because the pandemic has led to a decrease in plasma donations. The company is estimating a 3.1% inflation rate for plasma-dervied products.

Meanwhile, a separate report from RAND found that prescription drug prices in the U.S. are significantly higher than in other nations apart from notable exception of generic medications.

Drug prices in the U.S. are on average 2.56 times higher than those in 32 other nations, according to a new RAND Corporation report, International Drug Price Comparisons.

Brand-name drugs, in particular, are priced 3.44 times higher on average in the U.S. than other countries.

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However, the RAND report found that prices for unbranded generic drugs — which account for 84% of drugs sold in the U.S. by volume but only 12% of U.S. spending — are slightly lower in the U.S. than in most other nations.

“For the generic drugs that make up a large majority of the prescriptions written in the U.S., our costs are lower,” said Andrew Mulcahy, lead author of the study and a senior health policy researcher at RAND, in a press release. “It’s just for the brand-name drugs that we pay through the nose.”

The study found that among G7 nations, the United Kingdom, France and Italy generally have the lowest prescription drug prices, while Canada, Germany and Japan tend to have higher prices.

RAND researchers compiled their estimates from industry-standard IQVIA MIDAS data on drug sales and volume for 2018.

The study was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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