Dr Aimee Tharaldson Discusses Key Market Trends in Specialty Pharmacy

There is a lot of competition in specialty pharmacy right now, said Aimee Tharaldson, PharmD, a senior clinical consultant in Emerging Therapeutics for Express Scripts.

There is a lot of competition in specialty pharmacy right now, said Aimee Tharaldson, PharmD, a senior clinical consultant in Emerging Therapeutics for Express Scripts.

Transcript

What are some current key market trends in specialty pharmacy?

The FDA is definitely approving a lot of specialty drugs. In 2017, they approved 36 new specialty medications, and that’s just the trend that we’ve been seeing. When you look at drug spend under the pharmacy benefit, specialty drugs right now account for about 41% of spend. But, by 2019, we’re expecting about half of spend is going to be on specialty medications. Even though less than 2% of people take specialty drugs, they cost, on average, $3000 per month; so, they’re very expensive. So, that’s definitely where the market is focused.

We’re seeing a lot of competition in the specialty space now, so that’s even affecting orphan conditions, several cancer conditions, as well as more common specialty therapy classes. So, that potentially will lead to more cost-saving opportunity over time. We have specialty drugs going generic, too, which could have an impact. We recently had Copaxone go generic with the 40 mg strength. Zytiga, Gilenya, are some near-term ones that are going to be facing generic competition in the near future. So, that helps with competition.

We also have the biosimilars. So far, the FDA has approved 9 biosimilar medications. Unfortunately, only 3 have been launched. But, in the near future we are going to have more. We could have biosimilars to Epogen, Procrit this year, additional filgrastim biosimilars, Neulasta biosimilars. That could all occur this year. Even a Rituxan, which could happen sometime this year or next. Eventually, we’re going to have several biosimilars to Humira, so that’s really going to increase the competition and bring down the costs in the market.

So, competition is the main one I think.