The Express Scripts 2011 Drug Trend Report – Full of Infographics

Those of you that have been readers for a few years know that I love to read and summarize these reports. They provide a huge set of aggregated data and summarized information that is useful in creating business cases and identifying trends.

This year is no different although the graphics within the Express Scripts Drug Trend Report continue to get better … ala infographics (as they even posted one recently on their blog).

So, what caught my eye this year…

  • There was one ex-Medco person who signed off on the intro letter…and interestingly (compared to other DTRs), no George Paz signature.
  • They have a big picture of their Research & New Solutions Lab upfront (see below). It reminds me of the NOCs (Network Operations Centers) that I had at my past 3 employers. [Maybe one day before I move out of St. Louis they’ll take me on a tour.]

  • I was definitely interested to hear what they would say about Walgreens. They tackled it early on in the document.

Our 2011 retail-network negotiations marked another milestone in our heritage of independence from pharmacies and alignment with our plan sponsors. One retail pharmacy chain, Walgreens, was unwilling to offer rates and terms consistent with those of the market, and instead opted to leave our pharmacy network at the beginning of 2012. Although we remain open to Walgreens being part of our pharmacy network in the future, the positive reaction we received from plan sponsors and members during the process of transitioning patients to other pharmacies confirmed what our prior analyses had shown: the vast majority of the U.S. has an oversupply of pharmacies, suggesting that networks can be tightened significantly while maintaining sufficient patient access.

  • 17.6% of the total Rx spend was for specialty
  • 47% of specialty medications are processed under the medical benefit
    • 78% for oncology
  • They talk a little about evaluating genetic tests and when to recommend a test. It’s definitely an evolving space, and it will be interesting to see the Medco influence here in terms of what they recommend.
  • They talk about $408B in waste from adherence, generics and mail order. All consumer behaviors. (see last year’s report focused on waste)
  • They show the breakdown of waste by state where the South is the biggest problem. It looks a lot like the Diabetes Belt although it also includes the SouthWest.

  • Not surprisingly, diabetes, cholesterol, and hypertension represent 3 big opportunities.



  • FINALLY…For years, I’ve been comparing two older studies to make the point that people think their adherent when there’s no way that perceived adherence can match reality. The most exciting thing to me was that they actually looked at perceived and actual adherence on the same patients.

For example, patients in the least-adherent group in the survey of Express Scripts members had an average actual MPR of 24.3%. The average perceived MPR reported by patients in this group, however, was 90.6%. We therefore found a staggering 66% gap between perceived MPR and actual MPR.

  • They talk about how this data is being used to predict non-adherence with some crazy high reliability. (Meaning only that it sounds too good to be true.) Regardless, they’re right in using data to identify behavior gaps (current and future) and developing personalized interventions to address barriers.

  • The overall drug trend was 2.7%
    • 17.1% specialty trend
    • 0.1% traditional drug trend
  • Here’s the breakout by class of specialty spend

  • Actual member out-of-pocket and percentage of cost actually went down $0.14.  Surprised?

  • Perhaps most interesting (and new) is a huge section on Medicare and Medicaid trends. Obviously this shows their focus here in an area that CVS Caremark has also been focusing on.

I’d also point you to Adam Fein’s breakdown of this report (in a more timely manner).

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