Thoughts On Express Scripts 2010 Drug Trend Report

As one of my favorite annual projects during my time at Express Scripts, I love the drug trend report. It has been a historical benchmarking tool for the industry and become a normal deliverable for many of the PBMs. Here are my initial thoughts after reading this year’s document which looks at 2009 data.

Individuals often are not rational.

  • As driven by their Consumerology initiative over the past few years, Express Scripts has shifted the dialogue around the B2C components of the PBM industry to one of behavior change versus simply plan design. This report continues to reinforce that messaging.
  • Waste has been an ongoing drum beat since my days there. This continues to be the message with a shift to include non-adherence to channel mix and drug mix.
  • They talk about the Healthy People 2010 initiative and that key to closing “the last mile” in achieving our objectives is the ability to influence behavior.
  • One of my favorite charts is below showing the waste by class. Not surprising, plan sponsors should focus on heart disease, depression, high cholesterol, and ulcer disease. [Diabetes is not in the top four but is one of the typical areas of focus.]
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
    • Overall drug trend – 6.4%
    • Specialty drug trend – 19.5%
    • Traditional (non-specialty) drug trend – 4.8%
    • $800.23 PMPY average drug spend
  • The top five classes are:
  • Specialty drug spend is up to $111.10 (processed under the prescription benefit) with a belief that this is only 50% of the total spend which includes specialty drugs processed under the medical benefit.
  • The top specialty classes include inflammatory conditions, MS, and cancer which represent 67% of total specialty spend.
  • I was surprised to see the member contribution to the drug costs had gone down while the actual dollars had stayed flat.
  • I was also surprised that they found adherence (as measured using Medication Possession Ratio) stayed flat from 2008-2009. I think most of the information available had implied thru survey data that it was going down with the recession.
  • I’m having some difficulty reconciling the MPR analysis below with the waste argument. If 80% MPR is ideal and most classes are above 80% MPR, I’m not sure I see the crisis in the data.
  • One of the key charts that I always copied and hung on my wall is the one below. It shows the classes by rank, the utilization, the average cost, and now the estimated behavioral waste (generics and mail).
  • You should certainly go into the document and look at the class level detail. They’ve included a utilization chart by gender by age which I really like. The sections also give some insight into future pipeline. I think I’ll pull diabetes out into a separate post.
  • It’s interesting that they identify only three segments for non-adherent patients with specialty medications versus more on the traditional side:
    • Active Decliner
    • Refill Procrastinator
    • Sporadic Forgetter
  • They project that utilization will continue to go up at about 3% per year and that trend will be mitigated with new generics coming to market.
  • Another interesting analysis is where the waste is by state:
  • They have some information on their Consumerology approach, but I’ve talked about that before.
  • I liked their simple plan design primer:
  • Towards the end, they talk about some of the changes they’ve made over the past few years to their programs to reflect their consumerism approach:
    • Step Therapy Choice
    • Formulary Rapid Response
    • Call4Generics
    • Select Home Delivery (which is gem of their new programs in my assessment)
    • First Generic Fill Free
    • Select Curascript
  • A simple graphic that points to the importance of understanding the consumer and developing programs to effectively drive behavior is below. [This is very similar to all the work we do at Silverlink with clients to help them drive health outcomes and behavior.]

I like it. Very humanized versus purely statistical document. Good job Emily, Steve, Yakov, Andy, Bob, Brian, and Chris. (That’s the core group that I know well.)

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