LAS VEGAS — This year, generic drugs account for 83% of all drugs dispensed in the United States, and that figure is set to get even larger over the next few years. That was among the takeaways from IMS Health VP industry relations Doug Long’s presentation Sunday morning.
Over the next few years, Long said, generics would likely grow to 86% to 87% of prescriptions, at which point they would plateau. A factor behind this is Crestor (rosuvastatin), the cholesterol drug made by AstraZeneca. With 2012 sales of $5.1 billion, Crestor is the third top-selling drug in the United States, according to IMS. But after it comes off patent in 2016, there won’t be any other significant primary-care drugs coming off patent.
This, Long said, means generics companies will have to focus more on biologics. The market for specialty drugs — most of which are biologics — is likely to grow and account for about 30% of the market in the next few years. Indeed, specialty is already dominant in the development of new medications.
One area where retailers have a good opportunity is in reducing healthcare costs. Of the $213 billion in avoidable healthcare costs per year, $140 billion of that comes from patients visiting hospitals, and another $6 billion comes from emergency room visits.
“I think with your retail clinics, you can partner a lot and help reduce that,” Long said, adding that even medication synchronization can help improve medication adherence.
Reducing hospital readmissions is another area of potential cost containment, a contributing factor of which is nonadherence. Among nonadherent patients, those with cholesterol represent the highest cost, at $44 billion. The others are osteoporosis, diabetes, HIV, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and congestive heart failure. “These six disease states are all in your sweet spot,” Long said. “These are not specialty classes — these are all