CMS Report: Retail Drug Spending Slowed in 2017

December 14, 2018

Retail drug spending growth slowed in 2017 due to new innovative drugs and faster price growth of brand name meds, according to a report by CMS’ Office of the Actuary.

The report found that retail prescription drug spending — which accounts for 10 percent of total healthcare expenditures — only increased 0.4 percent in 2017 to $333.4 billion. This follows a downward trend: while spending grew 12.4 percent in 2014, it slowed to 8.9 percent in 2015 and sank lower still, to 2.3 percent, a year later.

CMS said the catalysts for slower retail drug spending include slower growth in the number of prescriptions dispensed and slower volume growth of expensive drugs. The fact that a shift continues towards cheaper generics, whose prices are declining, contributed significantly as well, the report said.

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