Although specialty drugs accounted for just 3% of prescriptions in California, they were responsible for more than half the prescription drug spending by nine insurers in the state in 2017, according to the Prescription Drug Cost Transparency Report released by the California Department of Insurance.
The publication said California insurers spent $606 million on specialty drugs last year, compared with $271.3 million on brand-name medications and $172.6 million on generic medications.
By total annual prescription drug spending, the most expensive specialty medications included the psoriasis drugs Stelara, Humira, and Enbrel, and the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.
Specialty drugs cost an average $2361 per prescription. Insurers paid about $2248 of that, and members paid $113.
Meanwhile, brand-name medications averaged $236 per prescription, with insurers footing about $192 and members $45. Generic drugs cost an average $29 per prescription, with insurers paying $19 and members $10.
Aetna, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare were among the California insurers who provided 2017 information for the report.
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