Top 7 Hospital Pharmacy Trends in 2020

Pharmacy technician looking for medicine on the rack.

As we enter into the New Year, we sat down with our President and CEO, Terry Andrus and our COO, Rick Burnett to discuss the industry trends hospital pharmacies can anticipate moving into the new decade. Both Andrus and Burnett agree some trends seem to never go out of style, like the challenges with drug shortages and 340B management. Others, like the impact data can make on patient experience, are urging hospital pharmacies to realize and take ownership of the overall impact their departments have on their patient’s care continuum.

Take a look at the list of industry trends, as predicted by CompleteRx:

  1. Biosimilar usage will ramp up. While the U.S. faced slow uptake in 2019, several biosimilars successfully increased utilization. Zarxio quietly snagged 60% of the filgrastim market and several initiatives were announced that will grow infliximab biosimilar market share, including the VA’s selection of Renflexis for its national formulary. “With bipartisan bills in Congress to reduce prescription drug costs and the FDA’s commitment to reduce market barriers, we anticipate increased availability and usage of biosimilars in 2020,” Andrus said.


  1. We will continue to wrestle with drug costs. We’re off to an ominous start. As early as New Year’s Day and the days following, drug manufacturers like Merck, Allergan, Pfizer, and GSK have hiked U.S. list prices an average of 5% on more than 250 drugs. Market disruptors Civica Rx, ProvideGx, biosimilar manufacturers, and 503B compounding pharmacies have the potential to reduce hospital drug costs and shortages but competitive, quality and regulatory issues continue to create access barriers.


  1. Drug shortages will continue. We do not expect the drug shortage crisis to dramatically improve in 2020, as confirmed by an FDA Task Force Report published in October 2019. The number of shortages has been growing, and the shortages are, also, lasting longer. Chronic drug shortages that clearly threaten patient care are caused by rock-bottom prices for older generic medicines and a health care marketplace that doesn’t run on the rules of supply and demand.


  1. Managing 340B remains challenging. Last year, we determined that 340B looked safe… for now. This ever-evolving program is crucial to the viability of DSH and rural hospitals. Despite successful legal challenges by stakeholders, hospitals will see CMS cuts to the 340B drug savings program and reductions in 2020 reimbursements. Plus, all covered entities should be prepared for increased scrutiny as proposed policies will significantly expand HRSA’s control.


  1. USP taken up at state level. The implementation of USP chapters <795> and <797> and the new chapter <825> was set to be enforced in December 2019. With several appeals, the effective date has been indefinitely postponed. In the meantime, some states are enforcing USP at the state level which can be problematic for multi-state health systems looking to reduce clinical variability and standardize medication management processes throughout their system.


  1. Data usage will grow. “Capturing and reporting analytics is a powerful measure of any successful pharmacy operation,” Burnett said. However, the collection, analysis and sharing of data can be challenging and time consuming. At CompleteRx, our business intelligence platform is focused on improving clinical outcomes and cost control while enhancing efficiency and accuracy in the administration of medications. “Hospital pharmacies will have to better incorporate data into their operations in order to discover new areas to reduce costs and improve productivity,” Burnett said.


  1. Technology will drive us into the future. The mechanics of medication dispensing are tedious, repetitive, and nearly impossible to perform without error. As a result, the U.S. market for pharmacy in automation is expected to grow exponentially throughout the next decade. The Automated dispensing cabinet market, alone, is expected to grow to $5.5 billion by 2024. These numbers merely scratch the surface of a market that, additionally, includes medication compounding, distribution, storage, processing and patient administration. Pharmacy automation not only streamlines pharmacy workflow and reduces the risk of medication errors, but also enables hospitals to refocus pharmacy staff on direct patient-care activities.

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