Cancer spending up. Duh.

According to a new report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, spending on cancer therapies has doubled over the past 5 years. And the retail price tag on these drugs is up, too. The average retail price of the 2017 launches was over $150,000, compared to $79,000 for those launched in 2013. You know, when they were practically garage sale prices. But before we get our knickers in a twist, IQVIA reports the average annual out-of-pocket spend for someone with commercial health insurance was just $500. With 1.7 million cancer diagnoses and over 600,000 deaths in the US alone forecast for 2018, that doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

US opioid scripts take a dive

A new study by IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science found that 12% fewer units of prescription opioids were dispensed in 2017 than in 2016. That’s the largest single-year decline since the drug peaked in 2011. On top of that, the largest declines were seen in the US states hit hardest by the scourge (New England region, West Virginia, Pennsylvania). Authors of the study attribute the decline to changing clinical guidelines, new legislation, altered reimbursement practices and broader public awareness of the addictive and destructive nature of the drug. That’s great news, of course, but overdoses from their follow-on illicit ancestors are still running rampant. Speaking of… here’s the Wikipedia page for fentanyl.  Nasty stuff. Just ask Michael Jackson, Prince, Tom Petty…

Growing, growing, relevant

You know what grew at almost the same rate (up ~24%) as the DJIA in 2017? The number of ACOs operating in the US. For the uninitiated, “Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of health care providers, who come together to give coordinated care to Medicare patients. When an ACO succeeds in delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, it shares the savings it achieves for the Medicare program.” There will be 18% more ACOs in 2018, than in 2017. There are 5 different ACO models and according to a report by IQVIA (form required), there are “1,000 federal, commercial and Medicaid ACOs, representing an estimated 28M beneficiaries.” The report lists the top 30 ACOs as well as the top ACOs in each of the 5 models. Not sure, but ~9% of the US population starts to raise an eyebrow or one.