Addressing the Complex Problem of Rising Drug Costs

05.05.17

About 60 percent of American adults takes at least one prescription drug, and many take several. Prescription drug spending has reached record highs in recent years, totaling $425 billion in 2015 — 16.7 percent of overall health care spending in the United States.

We recognize the inherent challenges for patients, payors and providers as drug prices continue to rise and are committed to creating value and improving health by helping to make medications accessible and affordable.

Patients Lose Access When They Can’t Afford Their Medicines

With so many Americans taking prescription drugs as part of their regular health care, the issue of cost is never far from their minds: 85 percent report being personally concerned about rising drug costs. We know that cost concerns affect the choices consumers make about their care, and have the potential to impact adherence to needed medications. About one in five consumers reports delaying filling a prescription because of concern about their ability to afford it.

Supporting Competition to Drive Down Costs

Price inflation for brand name drugs continues to put upward pressure on overall drug spending. This matters because even though brand name drugs make up just 15 percent of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S., they account for 75 percent of total pharmaceutical spending.

We support increasing competition in the pharmaceutical market, particularly from lower-cost, clinically equivalent generics and biosimilars, because it is one of the most effective ways to expand patient access to more affordable drugs. Unfortunately, at the start of 2017, more than 4,000 generic applications were pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Infographic: Addressing the Complex Problem of Rising Prescription Drug Costs

Our Multi-Pronged Approach

As one of the largest drug purchasers in the U.S. health care system, we employ industry-leading strategies to encourage more competitive pricing, reduce trend and make drugs more affordable and accessible for patients who need them.

Of the deep discounts negotiated by CVS Caremark, more than 90 percent are passed along to clients, who can use them to lower employees’ out-of-pocket costs or premiums.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Rising Drug Prices information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.