Skip to main content

Study: Drug cost estimates trend higher than actual sales


BEVERLY HILLS — Cost estimates put out before the launch of new drugs can often overestimate their impact on healthcare spending, according to a new study from research consultancy the Partnership for Health Analytics Research. 


One of the most recent and notable examples PHAR’s analysis points to is a cost estimate put out by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which predicted that the new class of injectable cholesterol drugs, PCSK9 inhibitors, would cost the healthcare system $7.2 billion. According to initial quarters of sales reports, PHAR said, the drugs have actually costs around $83 million, 1.2% of the estimate. The drugs were predicted in The New England Journal of Medicine to raise patients’s premiums by $124 per person, but PHAR cites an Avalere Health study putting the increase in premiums at $3.29 per member per month. 


“Overestimating drug costs by so much cannot lead to good decision making.” PHAR president Dr. Michael Broder said. “In fact, it is likely that patients feel the negative effects of such predictions in the form of early access restrictions and higher copayments.”


The whole study looked at predictions for 14 drugs launched since 2012 in various indications. On average, predictions were 11 times higher than the sales reported once the drugs hit the market. Another example the study highlights is Viekira Pak, whose sales were 28% of the predicted $2.9 billion in its first year. 


“Drug usage predictions are used to inform pharmacy policy.  Our goal in pointing out these discrepancies is to help improve predictions and decisionmaking,” Broder said. “Ideally, payers and policymakers would be able to use them as planning tools. In their current form, I'm afraid these predictions are so far off that they may just be scaring people into making bad decisions about limiting access to new drugs.”


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds