IMS Health Estimates Nearly $374 Billion Spent on Drugs Last Year

The study, "Medicine Use and Spending Shifts: A Review of the Use of Medicines in the U.S. in 2014," found that total dollars spent on medications in the country rose 13.1%, up from a 3.2% increase in 2013.

Drug spending in the United States last year was one for the record books. Pharmacists filled a record 4.3 billion prescriptions in 2014 that cost nearly $374 billion, according to a new report issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

“The 13.1% increase in drug spending in 2014 was mainly driven by two things: the availability of new hepatitis C [HCV] treatments and very few products losing patent protection,” said Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and the executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “Sovaldi [sofosbuvir; Gilead] was the biggest drug launch in history.

“As for patent protection, the health system saves money when drugs move from branded products to generics. Typically, there has been a savings of between 15 [billion] and 30 billion a year due to patent expiries. But in 2014, that figure was only $12 billion,” he said.

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