Medco Follow-up On Questions RE: 2011 Drug Trend Report

In my post a few weeks ago, I had four questions which my initial read of Medco’s Drug Trend Report had generated. I just got the answers to them…

Q: ADHD trend continues to increase.  With the new DSM-5 proposal, it looks like there will be more teens and adults diagnosed with adult ADD.  Do you see this accelerating the trend in this category even more? 

A: The proposed changes to the diagnostic criteria for ADHD / ADD in the DSM-V include changing the age of onset limit (on or before age 12, instead of age 7) and lowering the required number of symptoms which effectively will “loosen” the criteria and permit doctors to more easily diagnose the condition. If this indeed takes place, we would expect some further acceleration of the ongoing upward trend in ADHD drug use.

Q: As generics get closer to 80%, the remaining brand drugs will have to try new strategies to sustain utilization.  One of the growing tactics is copay coupons or cards.  Do you see this as an issue?  Are there tactics that you intend to use to address these through POS programs or other programs?  

A: Medco believes the best way to manage costs for both patients and payors is through the use of clinical and managed care programs that incentify the use of lower cost alternatives when clinically appropriate.  

Q: You talk about clients spending less PMPM on members age 0-18 which seems to run counter to the focus from last year on more, younger patients using maintenance drugs.  What do you attribute that drop in spending to? 

A: Because the prevalence in the pediatric category is so much lower than that of the adult population utilization/prevalence can trend higher than adults, but spend could be down, especially since there is much heavier use of specialty medications in the adult population. It’s a trend versus spend look.

Q: You bring up biologics.  It’s unlikely that biologics will generate large price drops as we’ve seen from generics.  What do you estimate will be the savings associated with biologics and will we see therapeutic interchange programs or will you manage the biologics more like a step therapy program? 

A: The industry is awaiting the final FDA guidance for approval and possible interchangeability of biosimilars. The estimates are that biosimilar will be priced in the range of 15% to 30% of branded product pricing. And as with generics, it is anticipated as biosimilars become increasing more accepted and completion begins within the biosimilar market itself, saving may increase overtime. 

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