Prescription drug price increases slowing down

Something may be giving in the eternal fight between managed care and the pharma business over brand-name drug costs. Prescription drug prices rose at the slowest pace in a decade during 2006, climbing 8.2 percent, compared with 9 percent in 2005, according to prescription management firm Express Scripts. Experts don't expect the smaller increases to continue, however, as they anticipate that fewer costly high-volume brand name drugs will go generic in coming years.

Meanwhile, drug spending is increasing, with diabetes med purchases in particular climbing 15.5 percent. Total drug spending should hit an even higher note in 2008, according to Express Scripts. CMS expects that its prescription drug spending will grow at a rate of 8.6 percent through 2016, a reasonable pace considering that it saw a 20 percent increase in 1999. The fastest-growing category should be specialty medications, which could double from $54 million in 2006 to $99 million in 2010.

To learn more about the study:
- read this piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch