Price of specialty drugs soars

par Andrew Rickard | November 08 2016 11:30AM

Expensive and recurring drug treatments are putting a strain on private health care plans. Insurers are pooling their costs to shelter sponsors from skyrocketing prices.

The Canadian Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation (CDIPC) is a not-for-profit corporation created by insurers to share the burden of expensive medications. Data released by the CDIPC reveals that in 2015 the cost of some ongoing drug treatments increased by 22% compared to the previous year.

While most high-cost drug use is related to autoimmune diseases, the report shows that newer cancer drugs, blood disorder drugs, and Hepatitis C drugs are also having an effect on industry pooling. Remicade, Harvioni, Solvadi, Humira, and Solaris topped the list of pricey medications last year; Harvoni, for example, only accounted for about $3 million of paid claims in 2014 but grew to $42 million in 2015.

"As each year goes by, it is abundantly clear that without drug pooling in place, many smaller and mid-size employers would be forced to drastically reduce or outright eliminate their drug benefit offerings to employees," says CDIPC's executive director Dan Berty.

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