The rising cost of prescription medications — and their increased frequency of use — accounts for one of the fastest-growing expenses for public health care programs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that prescription drug spending will increase from $216.7 billion in 2006 to $515.7 billion in 2017. This represents an increase of 138 percent in 11 years.
Since 2001, UMass Medical School's Center for Health Policy and Research has managed the pharmacy benefit program for the Massachusetts Medicaid program, MassHealth, processing more than 9 million claims annually. Through an aggressive strategy of drug utilization review, program and benefit design, and quality improvement measures, UMass Medical School's Center for Health Policy and Research has helped the state avoid more than $1 billion in prescription drug costs.
UMass Medical School has successfully helped the state contain its pharmacy costs, despite increases in:
- MassHealth enrollment (›1 percent annually),
- Pharmacy claims volume (approximately 10 percent annually), and
- Medication costs (approximately 5 percent annually).