Drug vials Cancer condition categories accounted for $378 million (48 percent) of the total increase in spending, with the largest increases for specified specialty drugs. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The use of very expensive specialty drugs is increasing—and so is the cost to employers, according to a research study by Prime Therapeutics LLC.

Prime’s study analyzed the 2016-2018 pharmacy claims data of more 17 million commercially insured members, to identify the trends of “drug super spender” members, defined as those with greater than $250,000 in total drug cost per year. While still a small population—0.0275 percent of all members in 2018—the group’s percentage of total drug spend is increasing—from 6.3 percent in 2016 to 8.6 percent in 2018, or roughly $2.1 billion in drug spend.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.

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