Total Drug Expenditures Projected to Increase in 2016

HealthDay News — Total drug expenditures are expected to increase by 11 to 13% in 2016, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

Glen T. Schumock, PharmD, MBA, PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues obtained drug expenditure data through calendar-year 2015. Based on a combination of quantitative analyses and expert opinion, the authors projected expenditures for 2016.

In calendar-year 2015, total US prescription sales were $419.4 billion; an increase of 11.7% from 2014. In clinics and nonfederal hospitals, the researchers found that prescription expenditures totaled $56.7 billion and $33.6 billion, respectively, representing increases of 15.9 and 10.7%, respectively. In nonfederal hospitals, increased prices for existing drugs was the main driver of the growth in spending. In terms of 2015 expenditures, the hepatitis C combination drug ledipasvir-sofosbuvir was the main drug overall ($14.3 billion); infliximab was the top drug in both clinics and nonfederal hospitals. In 2015, specialty agents and older generics were the drugs with the greatest increases in expenditures. These agents are expected to influence spending in 2016.

“We project an 11 to 13% increase in total drug expenditures overall in 2016, with a 15 to 17% increase in clinic spending and a 10 to 12% increase in hospital spending,” the authors write. “Health-system pharmacy leaders should carefully examine local drug utilization patterns in projecting their own organization’s drug spending in 2016.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Schumock DT, Li EC, Wiest MD, Stubbings J, Matusiak LM, Hunkler RJ, Vermeulen LC. National trends in prescription drug expenditures and projections for 2016. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2016. doi:10.2146/ajhp160205.