Hepatitis Pills Contributed to 13 Percent Spike in Drug Spending

Costly new hepatitis pills helped drove a 13 percent increase in drug spending last year among insurer-managed plans in the United States, a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to a report from the pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.
A course of therapy to treat the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus could cost as much as $150,000 with the approvals of medicines such as Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Sovaldi and Harvoni and Johnson & Johnson’s Olysio, Express Scripts said in the report, released Tuesday. Driven as well by higher costs of specialty and compounded medicines, the estimated drug spend in general for each person in commercial-insured plans was $980 in 2014.
The new hepatitis C medicines are particularly challenging for government health plans and programs.

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