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Brand name prescriptions make up 80 percent of drug sales, study says

By Tauren Dyson
Brand name prescriptions make up 80 percent of drug sales, study says
A leading health insurance group reports that part of the reason an increase is generic drugs has not brought down healthcare costs is because 80 percent of prescriptions are for brand-name drugs. Photo by Sponge/Wikimedia Commons

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Name brand drug spending drives 80 percent of all prescription sales, according to new data.

A report released on Wednesday by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, or BCBSA, tracked eight years of drug use, price fluctuation and spending for prescription drugs. Blue Cross spends more than $100 billion a year on prescriptions, which accounts for 20 percent of its overall healthcare spending.

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The BCBSA said it released the study to "probe into why generic drugs are not reining in prescription drug costs as anticipated, this year."

Name brand spending accounts for only 17 percent of all prescriptions but nearly $80 billion annually of of money spent. These numbers {link:reflect insurance claims:"https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html" target="_blank"} made by 41 million Blue Cross members. The top five drugs in Blue Cross spending in 2017 are Enbrel, Humira, Neulasta, Novolog and Remicade.

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In contrast, generic drug spending has gone down by 3 percent since 2016.

Of the $3.3 trillion spent on healthcare industrywide, prescription drugs account for 10 percent, according to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

According to the National Academy For State Health Policy, six states have introduced bills to import cheaper drugs from other places like Canada, Japan and Europe.

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"Accountability and transparency are key to developing a better understanding of overall health care costs, particularly the cost of prescription drugs that are essential to maintaining a person's health," Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBSA, said in a press release.

"The report findings underscore the underlying cost drivers in the prescription drug market and identify potential surges in overall drug costs in the future."

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