Those figures, which take into account anticipated discounts,
rebates and other price concessions that have become common,
represent an annual growth rate of 4 percent to 7 percent through
2020, according to the report.
Using wholesale prices, IMS sees U.S. spending rising 46 percent to
as high as $640 billion in 2020.
As politicians, including U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner
Hillary Clinton, call for drugmakers to rein in price increases,
spending on prescription drugs is expected to grow at a faster rate
through 2020 than over the past five years, although slower than for
2014-2015, when introduction of new hepatitis C cures fueled a spike
The average net price increase for branded drugs was just 2.8
percent in 2015, according to IMS, versus 12.4 percent using
"That reflects the new dynamics in the marketplace, where we have
heightened competition in several major therapy areas, including
diabetes, with manufacturers taking price concessions through
rebates," said Murray Aitken, executive director of IMS Institute
for Healthcare Informatics, which produced the report.
It also reflects more aggressive tactics by pharmacy benefit
managers and health insurers to restrict access to certain drugs
unless manufacturers agree to hefty discounts, he said.
Research pipelines filled with innovative medicines should ensure a
high number of new drug launches by 2020, led by expensive cancer
U.S. oncology drug spending reached $39.1 billion in 2015, an
18-percent jump, while treatments for autoimmune diseases, such as
rheumatoid arthritis, rose nearly 29 percent to $30.2 billion.
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"Our spending on those drugs will be relatively high but still
manageable ... because they will be offset by more modest price
increases for branded drugs and a rising level of savings from drugs
losing patent protection," Aitken said.
Upcoming high-profile patent expirations include AstraZeneca's
Crestor and Pfizer Inc's Lyrica and Viagra. By 2020, there will also
be increased competition from cheaper versions of pricey biotech
medicines, known as biosimilars. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration has so far approved two biosimilars, with many more
In 2015, generic drugs, including off-patent medicines still sold
under brand names, accounted for nearly 89 percent of all
prescriptions filled, IMS reported.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Bill Rigby)
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