The volatility in drug pricing has health system pharmacists asking important questions:  How can I keep up with all of the changes in drug pricing and utilization that are affecting my budget? Which trends must be factored into current strategic planning and which are worthy of bringing to the attention of my C-suite from an awareness perspective?

Vizient’s Drug Price Forecast, published twice annually, is an essential tool for health system pharmacy leaders for answers to these questions.

“Our forecast is personalized for our Vizient audience and takes into account the membership’s overall purchasing behavior and the challenges they are facing,” said Steven Lucio, PharmD, associate vice president, pharmacy services for Vizient. “We employ this detailed approach to forecast pricing changes and enable our members to take clear action on the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.”

The most recent forecast was published at the end of July 2016 and includes not only an aggregate pricing forecast across all pharmaceuticals, but also detailed projections at the drug and therapeutic class level. The publication also reviews current clinical utilization trends that are impacting usage across member organizations. Equally important, the forecast is structured to provide pharmacy leaders with the context they need to articulate to their C-suite audience the issues and trends that will continue to influence pharmaceutical purchasing. 

“The tendency for many organizations is to view pharmacy expenditures in terms of cost. While important, we must shift the focus from just the expense of acquiring a medication or the amount we're reimbursed for its use, to the resulting patient outcome,” said Lucio. “Based on comments from pharmacy leaders, our forecast has enabled them to change the context of the conversation with their administrators to consider pharmacy as a strategic partner and not just a cost center.”

The forecast also highlights the challenges related to the introduction of more specialty drugs. “By 2018, as much as 50 percent of pharmaceutical spend in the U.S. could be associated with specialty drugs. These drugs are for narrow audiences which generally cover approximately 2 to 3 percent of the overall patient population. Given this outlook, members need to be thinking about how they will participate in the specialty arena,” said Lucio.

Effective strategic planning for pharmacy within the health system requires a frequent refresh on insights because drug pricing is going to increase given the nature of the drugs coming to market and their clinical utilization. “Oncology is a great example. It’s not only that drug pricing is increasing; drug utilization is increasing as well, especially for novel treatments like the immunotherapy products,” explains Lucio.

“It’s wonderful that patients have the opportunity to experience such improved outcomes. However, the health care environment will have to define ways to ensure that access to therapy is not limited by the escalating prices that we see. That’s why Vizient has focused for so many years on the importance of biosimilars; and we encourage pharmacy leaders to be proactive in educating their C-suites about all of the issues that impact pharmacy.”

To access the Vizient Drug Price Forecast on Marketplace Procure, click here. For those without access, please send an email to pharmacyquestions@vizientinc.com.

Published: September 20, 2016