A record low price increase on branded drugs and changes in health insurance benefit design are just a few of the reasons that patients in the US are experiencing improved affordability for their medications, according to a new report from The IQVIA™ Institute for Human Data Science. Their research found that 71% of branded prescriptions have a final out-of-pocket cost of below $20, while just 3.6% of branded prescriptions have a cost above $125. The report, Medicine Spending and Affordability in the U.S.: Understanding Patient Costs for Medicines, discovered that “[a] rising number of prescriptions are now dispensed with a $0 payment by the patient, and now amount to 44% of all branded prescriptions in 2019, up from 36% in 2015.”
Additionally, the data found that branded prescriptions costing more than $125 largely affects those with commercial plans (44% of high-cost claims) or Medicare coverage (35% of high-cost claims). IQVIA did also find that “abandonment is higher at higher prescription cost levels, and those prescriptions may be underrepresented as those prescriptions might have been abandoned due to cost.” Of the 9% of branded and generic prescriptions that are abandoned: 5% are for medications of no cost, but 60% are when the medicine costs more than $500.
“Lower drug price growth and improvements in affordability to patients is a testament to the positive market dynamics of the American pricing system and the fact that manufacturers, health insurers and the intermediaries, such as wholesalers and benefits managers, have taken actions to reduce the burden of drug costs to patients,” said Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, in the news release. The report examined the complexities of our current pricing system, hoping to “contribute to more transparency and understanding of the different levels of cost,” Aitken added.