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February 8, 2023
David Burda
Economics Outcomes System Dynamics

Five More Things I Didn’t Know About Drugs and Drug Prices

Anytime I write about drug costs or the pharmaceutical industry, I get a handful of emails telling me I don’t really know what I’m talking about. And the people who email me are right. The two healthcare topics that I know the least about are drug costs and the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve acknowledged that on many occasions.

But I don’t care. I’m going to write about them again anyway if only to bug the people who email me.

Here are five more things that I didn’t know about drugs, drug spending, drug costs and Big Pharma:

  1. National health expenditures on retail prescription drugs rose 7.8 percent in 2021 to $378.0 billion, according to the latest NHE spending figures released by CMS in December. That’s more than double the 3.7 percent increase in 2020.
  2. Patients’ out-of-pocket spending on retail prescription drugs rose 3.1 percent in 2021 to $49.8 billion, less than half of the overall percentage increase that year. But it’s a big jump from the zero percent increase in patients’ out-of-pocket drug spending in 2020.
  3. The annual number of daily doses of prescribed medications will rise less than 1 percent to 255 billion in North America in 2027 from 254 billion this year, according to the latest annual Global Use of Medicines report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Sciences.
  4. The net annual sales of prescription drugs will rise 1.9 percent to $420 billion in the U.S. in 2027 from $412 billion this year, according to the IQVIA report.
  5. The loss of drug exclusivity because of patent expirations and the development of biosimilar and generic alternatives will cost pharmaceutical manufacturers $140.8 billion in lost brand-name drug sales in the U.S. from 2023 through 2027, according to the IQVIA report.

Generally speaking, when you add it all together — drug spending is up while drug use is flat — it probably means that manufacturers are charging higher prices for their drugs, which is bad for consumers if they don’t have access to cheaper, generic versions of their prescribed medications.

I could be wrong. I might be right. If not, email me.

If you want to know 10 other things I didn’t know about drugs and drug prices, please read “10 Things I Didn’t Know About Drugs and Drug Prices” on 4sighthealth.com.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

David Burda

Dave Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personal experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 35 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 35 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.


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