Chicago—A new analysis predicts an 11% to 13% increase in total drug expenditures overall in the United States in 2016, with a 15% to 17% increase in clinic spending and a 10% to 12% increase in hospital spending.

The study published in the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy discusses historical trends and factors likely to influence future pharmaceutical expenditures, making projections for hospitals, clinics, and overall.

A team led by University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy researchers analyzed drug expenditure data through calendar year 2015, derived from the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives database. The team also reviewed other factors that could influence drug spending in hospitals and clinics in 2016, including new drug approvals and patent expirations.

Expenditure projections for 2016 were based on a combination of quantitative analyses and expert opinion.

The study reports that total U.S. prescription sales in the 2015 calendar year were $419.4 billion, which was 11.7% higher than sales in 2014. Prescription expenditures in clinics and nonfederal hospitals in 2015 added up to $56.7 billion, a 15.9% increase, and $33.6 billion, a 10.7% increase, respectively.

For hospitals, growth in spending was driven primarily by increased prices for existing drugs, with the hepatitis C combination drug ledipasvir–sofosbuvir the top drug overall in terms of 2015 expenditures at $14.3 billion, according to the article.

Results say that, in both clinics and nonfederal hospitals, infliximab led the list of highest expenditures. The individual drugs with the greatest increases in costs in 2015 were specialty agents and older generics and likely to continue to influence total spending in 2016, study authors suggest.

They recommend that “health-system pharmacy leaders should carefully examine local drug utilization patterns in projecting their own organization’s drug spending in 2016.”

A recent IMS Health report, meanwhile, notes that spending on medications in the United States increased by double digits for a second year in 2015 and reached $425 billion based on invoice prices.

Estimated rebates and other price concessions by manufacturers rose steeply in 2015, and, after adjustment for those, net spending was determined to be $310 billion, up 8.5% over 2014 levels. Specialty drug spending on a net price basis reached $121 billion, up more than 15% from 2014.

“The surge of new medicines remained strong and the use of recently launched brands remained at historically high levels, while the savings from brands facing generic competition were relatively low,” according to the April report from IMS.

The research group notes that longer-term trends—spurred by the Affordable Care Act and in response to rising overall healthcare costs—continued to unfold in 2015, especially that, “healthcare is being delivered by different types of healthcare professionals and in different facilities, and patients face higher out-of-pocket costs as well as access barriers.”

IMS predicts that the outlook for medicine spending through 2020 is “for mid-single digit growth driven by further clusters of innovative treatments, offset by a rising impact from brands facing generic or biosimilar competition.”

« Click here to return to Weekly News Update.