Prescription drug spending continues to be one of the mostpressing concerns for employers when it comes to health care costs. And while drug costs, especially for specialty pharmacy drugs, are expected tocontinue to rise, there are strategies that may help businesseskeep those increases to a manageable level, especially if they candevelop partnerships with brokers and pharmacy benefitmanagers.

Drugs drive health care spending

There is widespread agreement that drug costs are not rising as sharply as they have in the past—butthe trends are still not good for employers. Specialty pharmacy hasbecome the focus, as both costs and demand continue to grow.

“The specialty pharmacy trend is a significant concern and it isnot abating,” says Ellen Kelsay, chief strategy officer for theNational Business Group on Health. “When you look at the drugs inthe pipeline, there's no indication that trend will moderate in thefuture.”

A recent survey by Mercer found that up to 50 new specialtydrugs are expected to hit the market annually for the next fiveyears, which could increase costs for employers by $25 billionannually. A story by Reuters on the Mercer survey noted that onenew specialty drug treatment for leukemia costs $475,000 perpatient.

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