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New drug for hepatitis C contributes to 13% rise in spending on prescription drugs in US

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 17 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2055
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States rose by $43.4bn (£28.9bn; €40.1bn) in 2014 to reach $373.9bn—a 13.1% increase from 2013—says a report by the IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics, a consulting group.1

The cost of new drugs to treat hepatitis C, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, as well as higher prices for diabetes drugs, contributed the most to the growth in spending, the report said. The increase is the largest since 2001, when spending jumped by 17%.

Spending on the costlier new drugs alone contributed $20.2bn to spending growth in 2014, the report added. More than half of this increase, $11.3bn, went to pay for four new hepatitis C drugs as the number of patients receiving such treatments rose to 161 000, a 10-fold increase from 2013. A 12 week course of …

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