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Diabetes Medications Are the Most Expensive

Apr 10, 2014

Review of 2013 prescriptions by the Express Scripts shows that diabetes medications trounce all others in terms of annual patient spend on traditional medications….

Diabetes drugs are then followed by drugs for high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease.


Diabetes was among the top 10 most expensive traditional medications whose use went up between 2012 and 2013, rising 14%, whereas spend per patient for cholesterol and blood pressure/heart disease fell.

Express Scripts research indicates that diabetes medication expenses are only going to increase, and predicts the spending will continue to grow between 10% and 13% every year through 2016.

The PBM found that use of traditional medications, such as diabetes therapies, rose 0.5% between 2012 and 2013. Use and cost, however, are two different metrics, and although use of traditional medication inched up a half-percentage point, higher prices pushed spending up almost 5%.

The top three most expensive specialty medication classes were for inflammatory conditions, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

While specialty drugs may be a secondary category, Express Scripts notes that specialty drugs comprised the majority of the FDA’s 2013 approvals for the third year in a row, vs. 33% of FDA approvals in 2008.

It is not unlikely that patients with type 2 diabetes could have expenses for their drugs that could exceed over 500 dollars a month in just copays.

Express Scripts Survey April 2014