Increased use of remdesivir for COVID pushes it to top spot in total Vizient member spend

Jan. 26, 2022

Vizient, Inc. announced in a release, that remdesivir, an anti-viral agent used in the treatment of COVID, now tops its list of drugs by total member spend, replacing the anti-inflammatory adalimumab (Humira), which has fallen to the No. 2 spot.

The finding is reported in the Vizient Winter 2022 Pharmacy Market Outlook, which forecasts an overall 3.09% increase in drug prices for July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Remdesivir, which came to market in 2020, currently makes up 3.42%, amounting to over $1 billion, of total Vizient member spend among all pharmaceuticals analyzed in the semi-annual report.

“Before COVID, we anticipated adalimumab would remain the top drug by total spend until biosimilars are introduced to bring in competition in 2023,” said Dan Kistner, Vizient group senior vice president for pharmacy. “That remdesivir replaced it as the No. 1 drug in total member spend across all classes of trade reflects how COVID has impacted hospitals and the unanticipated costs to their budgets.”

Utilization of remdesivir has been steadily increasing since authorization. Tocilizumab, also used in the treatment of COVID, earned a new spot within the top 10 list of overall drug spend among Vizient members, coming in at No. 10.

Another notable drug in the Pharmacy Market Outlook is pembrolizumab (Keytruda), part of the oncology therapeutic class and category checkpoint inhibitors that arrived on the market in 2014. From October 2020 to September 2021, pembrolizumab made up approximately 12% of total member sales within this category, attributed to an increased number of FDA approvals for treatment of 20 different types of cancer.

The latest Pharmacy Market Outlook also offers new insights including a price projection for essential medications, drugs that if not available would provide the greatest threat to hospitals’ ability to provide immediate and high-quality patient care. The additional projection will help hospitals initiate sourcing strategies that prioritize inventory of these essential medications, which are projected to increase in price at 2.10%.

Additionally, the Outlook includes a new section on home infusion therapy, a $19 billion dollar industry that has seen a 300% growth over the last 10 years. This section of the report details factors contributing to the increased need for home infusion, such as a decrease in hospital bed days, safety concerns around COVID transmission at infusion centers and payer site of care restrictions.

Vizient release

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