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Costs for specialty drugs soar

The top three therapy classes of specialty drugs (inflammatory conditions, multiple sclerosis, and cancer) accounted for 67 percent of total specialty drug spending last year, according Express Scripts’ 2009 Drug Trend Report. Total specialty drug spending rose 19.5 percent from $92.97 per member per year in 2008 to $111.10 in 2009.

The authors suggest that there is a way to better control increases, but insurers are for now hesitant to explore it.

“Genetic testing to determine whether a drug will work before it is prescribed can potentially prevent unnecessary treatments and lessen the risk of side effects,” the study states. “However, genetic tests generally are expensive and many insurers do not cover the cost. The tests do not always provide clear answers. Many privacy and regulatory issues surrounding their use still need to be settled.”

Spending on different therapy classes

Source: 2009 Drug Trend Report, Express Scripts

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