Drug spending around the world will hit $1.5 trillion by 2021

The amount of money the world spends on prescription drugs could rise to $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to a report published Tuesday by the QuintilesIMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

That’s up from $1.2 trillion in 2016, and a slower rate of increase that we’ve seen in the recent past when new, high-cost hepatitis C drugs and cancer treatments hit the market. That wave of new, super costly drugs, was unprecedented, said Murray Aitken, the executive director of QuintilesIMS Institute.

In the next five years, Aitken said, he doesn’t expect this to happen again. Sure, there will be new drugs approved, but that spending will be offset by other drugs going off patent or facing more competition, which will make the growth more sustainable.

The uptick in spending growth matched the number of new drug approvals that happened in the United States — the largest pharmaceutical market according to the report — in 2014 and 2015. There were 45 new drugs approved by the FDA last year and 41 in 2014. That’s more than double the number that’s been approved in 2016, which as of December 5 was just 19 new drugs).

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