IQVIA™ Institute for Human Data Science Releases 2019 Medicines Report on U.S. Drug Consumption; U.S. Rx Opioid Volume Declined 17% in 2018 – Largest Single-Year Drop Ever Recorded

mai 09, 2019

DANBURY, Conn. & RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The latest report from the IQVIA™ Institute for Human Data Science found prescription opioid dosage volume — as defined by morphine milligram equivalents, or MMEs — declined 17 percent in 2018, marking the single-largest annual drop ever recorded within the U.S. market.

The study, Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2018 and Outlook to 2023, shows that prescription opioid volume had increased annually since 1992, reaching its highest level in 2011. A series of regulatory and legislative restrictions subsequently occurred. Those combined with tighter clinical prescribing guidelines and greater reimbursement controls resulted in 4 percent-per-year declines on average from 2012 through 2016, followed by a 12 percent drop in 2017 and the historic 17 percent decline last year.

Despite those national trends, state-level variability was wide regarding per capita volume of opioid and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescriptions. Specifically, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas had the highest number of opioid prescriptions relative to MAT prescriptions, while all New England states showed fewer than average opioid prescriptions and higher MAT use.

Prescription drug monitoring programs now in place in 49 states significantly limit prescribing of high-dose opioids, which are associated with a higher risk of dependency and overdose and saw the steepest decline in 2018.

“As the national discussion regarding the opioid epidemic in this country continues, we hope to inform and advance that dialogue with some of the important findings in this report,” said Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. “For instance, while prescription opioid usage continues to decline, we saw many more people receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Our research shows new therapy starts for MATs increased to 1.2 million people in 2018, nearly a 300 percent increase compared with those seeking addiction help in 2014. This is an important indicator of the effects of increased funding and support for treatment programs to address addiction.”

Additional highlights of the 2019 U.S. Medicines Report include:

  • Medicine Usage Trends: There were 5.8 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2018, up 2.7 percent from 2017 when adjusted for prescription duration. More than two thirds of total prescriptions last year were for chronic conditions, which are increasingly filled with 90-day prescriptions. The largest increase in medicine use in 2018 was seen in anti-hypertensives, with an increase of 48 million prescriptions filled last year, and mostly driven by an aging population and expanded guidelines to lower blood pressure. Increased focus on patient adherence, including incentives in Medicare Part D, is resulting in greater use of 90-day prescriptions and higher adherence rates among patients with common chronic conditions.
  • Medicine Spending and Growth Dynamics: In 2018, spending grew 4.5 percent among off-invoice discounts and rebates, while growth at the invoice level was 5.7 percent. Discounts, rebates and other price concessions on brands reduced absolute invoice spending by an estimated 28 percent to $344 billion. Spending grew in 2018 due in part to the launch of new branded products as well as an increase in the volume of current branded products. Net price growth was 0.3 percent in 2018, or 1.6 percent below the Consumer Price Index, while price increases for protected brands moderated to 5.5 percent on an invoice-price basis.
  • Patient Out-of-Pocket (OOP) Costs: Total patient out-of-pocket costs for retail prescription drugs were estimated to be $61 billion in 2018, marking a $2 billion increase compared with 2017 and up $5 billion from 2014. Medicare patients faced higher annual OOP cost levels than patients in commercial plans or on Medicaid. Almost 20 percent of Medicare Part D patients had OOP costs higher than $500 annually while only 8.8 percent of the broader population had similar OOP expenses. Commercially insured patients increasingly used manufacturer coupons to offset initial cost exposure and average final OOP costs remained at $42 per brand prescription, similar to 2017 levels.
  • Outlook to 2023: While the full impact of potential policy changes on manufacturer net sales is unclear, total net spending growth on pharmaceuticals is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 3-6 percent on net price basis, and 4-7 percent on invoice price basis through 2023. The baseline scenario for the next five years forecasts net medicine spending in the U.S. will increase from $344 billion in 2018 to $420 billion in 2023, an aggregate growth of $76 billion compared to aggregate net growth of $84 billion over the past five years. The largest driver of this growth will be the launch of new brands, which are forecast to contribute $73 billion of new spending as clinical development efforts across the pharmaceutical industry result in new drug approvals and uptake.

The full version of the report, including a detailed description of the methodology, is available at study was produced independently as a public service, without industry or government funding.

About the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science

The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science contributes to the advancement of human health globally through timely research, insightful analysis and scientific expertise applied to granular non-identified patient-level data.

Fulfilling an essential need within healthcare, the Institute delivers objective, relevant insights and research that accelerate understanding and innovation critical to sound decision-making and improved human outcomes. With access to IQVIA’s institutional knowledge, advanced analytics, technology and unparalleled data, the Institute works in tandem with a broad set of healthcare stakeholders to drive a research agenda focused on Human Data Science, including government agencies, academic institutions, the life sciences industry and payers. More information about the IQVIA Institute can be found at


IQVIA (NYSE:IQV) is a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions and contract research services to the life sciences industry. Formed through the merger of IMS Health and Quintiles, IQVIA applies Human Data Science — leveraging the analytic rigor and clarity of data science to the ever-expanding scope of human science — to enable companies to reimagine and develop new approaches to clinical development and commercialization, speed innovation and accelerate improvements in healthcare outcomes. Powered by the IQVIA CORE™, IQVIA delivers unique and actionable insights at the intersection of large-scale analytics, transformative technology and extensive domain expertise, as well as execution capabilities. With more than 58,000 employees, IQVIA conducts operations in more than 100 countries.

IQVIA is a global leader in protecting individual patient privacy. The company uses a wide variety of privacy-enhancing technologies and safeguards to protect individual privacy while generating and analyzing information on a scale that helps healthcare stakeholders identify disease patterns and correlate with the precise treatment path and therapy needed for better outcomes. IQVIA’s insights and execution capabilities help biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, government agencies, payers and other healthcare stakeholders tap into a deeper understanding of diseases, human behaviors and scientific advances, in an effort to advance their path toward cures. To learn more, visit

Click here to subscribe to Mobile Alerts for IQVIA.

Contact Us
Contact Us
Contact Us

Email Us

Get in touch today to discover the right solutions for you.

Call Us

We are pleased to speak with you during our standard business hours.

U.S. Toll-Free only
+1 866 267 4479

For international call please find a number in our toll-free list.

Media Inquiries

Please use this form to reach out to our media team with inquiries. Thank you.