The nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager says prescription drugs spending rose 13 percent last year, the largest annual increase since 2003.
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Express Scripts says the gains were fueled by pricey specialty drugs that accounted for about 31 cents of every dollar spent on prescriptions even though they represented only 1 percent of all U.S. prescriptions filled.
Specialty drugs are advanced medications that treat complex or chronic conditions like hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.
Express Scripts Holding Co. and several insurers have warned for more than a year about the growing financial impact from specialty drugs like Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi.
Express Scripts also says in an annual report on prescription spending that the specialty drug trend will slow to more sustainable levels over the next three years.