Study reveals drug volume, prices on the rise

November 1, 1999
Pharmaceutical Representative

Total retail prescription drug sales for 1999 are expected to exceed $121.6 billion.

Total retail prescription drug sales for 1999 are expected to exceed $121.6 billion, according to a study released by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The estimate is an 18% increase over the 1998 year-end level of $103.5 billion. NACDS also projects an 8% increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed in retail pharmacies.

According to the study, 2.97 billion prescriptions will have been dispensed by year's end.

Several factors are responsible for the increases, according to Phil Schneider, the managing director of public affairs for the NACDS. "Demographics, product introduction, recognition of the role of medicines in treating illnesses earlier and quicker and advertising can make patients more informed or cause them to seek more health care," explained Schneider.

Schneider cautioned that the figures must be looked at in relation to health care costs as a whole.

"Frequently people say 'rise in the cost of prescription drugs' and they mean rise in prescription drug expenditures," Schneider said. "There are two components in the rise of prescription drug expenditures: the increase in the number of prescriptions and the price of those prescriptions. So while overall prescription expenditures may be increasing in the 10% to 12% rate, total health care expenditures are not increasing at that level." PR