In 2017, nearly half a trillion dollars was spent on prescription drugs in the U.S. alone. This amount is forecast to grow by up to 5% in 2018. Clearly, a lot of money can be saved simply by making prescription drugs more effective. Unfortunately, serious obstacles stand in the way of improvement. Many patients do not take medications as directed, which leads to about 125,000 deaths, 10% of all hospitalizations, and nearly $300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs every year.
Express Scripts is a company that works with payers to improve pharmacy and medical benefits management. One of their programs, SafeGuardRx, provides a suite of tools that help patients with adherence and engagement problems. According to Express Scripts, this program has resulted in lower costs and better outcomes. In 2017, the system resulted in a 96% cure rate for hepatitis C while lowering treatment costs 13% compared with 2016. For diabetes patients, the cost per patient declined while more patients were in compliance with treatment guidelines than the prior year. In addition, 15 percent of the diabetes patients were identified as at risk for heart attack or stroke, and were started on statin therapy as well. This could result in almost 13,000 fewer heart attacks over the next 10 years.
Overall, prescription drug spending in 2017 increased by just 1.4% for Express Scripts compared with 2016. Nearly half of their patients saw cost reductions. Programs like SafeGuardRx can provide personalized medicine treatments, increased adherence, and better outcomes, while lowering costs at the same time.