Employers have been concerned about drug plan management for many years. The costs of specialty medications are of particular concern due to the increased number of these high-cost drugs that have been introduced to the market. While drug spending for traditional medications decreased by 1.3 per cent in 2015, spending for specialty medications increased by 18.6 per cent. This trend is due to an increase in the cost per claim for specialty medications as well as a rise in their use.
The Conference Board of Canada has undertaken a research series to provide insight into the impact of specialty medications on private drug plan management. This briefing, the first in the series, defines what is meant by a specialty medication; explains the significance of these medications for employees and employers; highlights barriers that can prevent employees from accessing specialty medications; and provides high-level strategies that employers can use to manage the impact of specialty medications on benefit plans.