Multiple trends are occurring within the specialty pharmacy industry that could have a huge impact on the space, maintained longtime industry expert Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., CEO of Drug Channels Institute, during a recent webinar. Those include greater competition among specialty products, a slowing of payer spending on specialty drugs and more vertical integration among both payers and providers. “We’re at kind of an inflection point in the specialty market,” he contended during the July 29 webinar, titled Specialty Drugs Update: Trends, Controversies, and Outlook.
Among PBMs reporting their commercial plan sponsor clients’ spend, the average share of prescriptions by specialty drugs, both generic and brand, was 2% in 2021. The share of pharmacy revenues for specialty drugs was 38%, and the share of commercial payers’ net spending was 51%. “For the last few years, drug spending has been growing in the low-to-mid single digits, and that’s really the blend of traditional drugs” that have gone down in price due to generics, as well as the gross-to-net bubble — the growing difference between a drug’s gross sales at list price vs. its sales at net price, which includes rebates and other concessions. “Specialty drug spending has also been slowing down. It spiked quite a bit with the introduction of hepatitis C treatments and has been hovering in the 10% to 15% a year range,…but more recently, i.e., last year, it actually dropped.” He pointed out that CVS and Express Scripts reported that their specialty drug spending growth was only 5% to 6%.