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The good news on prescription drug spending EDITORIAL

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued an analysis of projected U.S. health spending for 2017-2026, calling for 5.5 percent growth in national health spending.

This increase reflects factors including growth in disposable personal income, aging of the population and an increase in prices for medical goods and services, specifically 6.3 percent growth in prescription drugs.

Growth in prescription spending will mainly be driven by the introduction of new medicines and greater patient access to medicines. This is “good news” for the patient.

Why? New therapies are transforming care for patients fighting diseases such as cancer, hepatitis C, high cholesterol and more.

In fact, 2017 was an extraordinary year for drug approvals with 46 for new molecular entities for a range of disease states, representing the highest number of new medications in 21 years. 2017 also represented a record number of personalized medicine approvals with the FDA approving 16 personalized medicines, consisting of nine new therapies for various forms of cancer.

New cancer therapies include the first two ever approval of CAR T-cell therapies, the first treatment for a rare inherited disorder called Batten disease and the first treatment of an ultra-rare genetic condition called Sly syndrome. In addition, the first-ever gene therapies in the U.S. were approved, providing a new paradigm of truly individualized treatments.

These novel medications will ensure opportunities for cures and a better quality of life. Costs will fall as competition occurs in the marketplace among brand-name medicines and even further with the introduction of generics.

The FDA’s efforts to enhance the competitive marketplace by streamlining the generic approval process are yet another step to ensure patients have greater choice with affordable medications. Nearly 90 percent of all medicines dispensed in the United States are already generic copies that cost a fraction of the price of the initial brand medicines.

In fact, the CMS analysis indicates that spending on prescription medicines as a share of total national health expenditures will only be 10.6 percent by 2026.

We must always remember that innovative medicines help patients live longer, healthier lives and in turn increase the number of healthy people working, going to school, investing and contributing to society, which ultimately saves health care costs and ensures a robust insurance system.

Chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and account for about 90 percent of health care spending. Innovative treatments are transforming the trajectory of these and many other debilitating diseases and conditions.

BioNJ’s rallying cry is, “Because Patients Can’t Wait.®” To better serve patients, we must continue to encourage further medical innovations and access to these breakthrough discoveries.

Debbie Hart is president and CEO of BioNJ

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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