Metric: Biotech drugs fueling costs

New biotech drugs are fueling a rapid rise in healthcare costs, according to a new survey from Aon Consulting. This year alone the cost of specialty drugs -- led by more complex biotech creations -- will shoot up 22.5 percent. Overall drug costs are expected to rise 13.2 percent, down from last year but still a troubling double-digit pace. Some new biotech drugs can cost thousands, and even tens of thousands of dollars. And more than 800 specialty pharmaceutical drugs are in the pipeline.

"Specialty pharmacy is an increasingly important issue for employers, due to our aging workforce and the ongoing development of advanced drugs for diseases such as depression, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer," says Randy Vogenberg, senior vice president with Aon Consulting's Life Sciences practice. "These drugs offer significant advances in treating rare diseases and increasingly common disorders; but they are currently very costly due to lack of generic competition and inconsistent benefit plans across managed care organizations. Because drug development continues at a fast pace, it's a complex task to forecast the increasing costs."

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