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Slowed growth in prescription drug spending driven by HCV drugs


National health spending amounted to $3.3 trillion or $10,348/person, a 4.3% increase in 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This was a slower rate of growth than the 5.8% growth in 2015 because of slower insurance enrollment and declines in spending for services and retail prescription drugs.

The growth in spending on prescription drugs in 2016 declined significantly – 1.3% in 2016 vs. 8.9% in 2015. Strong growth in spending for drugs used to treat hepatitis C contributed to high overall spending growth in 2014 and 2015, which changed in 2016. Prescription drug spending in 2016 grew more slowly partially because spending for drugs used to treat hepatitis C decreased, as fewer patients received treatment and net prices for these drugs declined, the report stated .

"The 2016 rate of prescription drug spending growth is more in line with the lower average annual growth during the period 2010–13 of 1.2 percent—a rate that was driven by the shift to more consumption of generic drugs, which was partly influenced by the loss of patent protection of major brand-name drugs," the authors noted.

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