|By Mark Rolnick, Executive Vice President, Head of GreenShield Administration.|
In a world where Ozempic is trending on social media and tops the charts of the most widely discussed drugs, it’s easy to overlook innovation in treatments for chronic conditions that alleviate common suffering. This especially rings true in the newly released 2023 GreenShield Administration Drug Trends Report, which reveals never-been-seen data based on +32 million claims from over two million drug claimants processed by GreenShield Administration this year.
The GreenShield Administration Report goes beyond Ozempic, revealing three therapeutic categories that are likely to have a high impact on private benefit plans in 2023: ADHD, migraines and asthma.
Trend #1: Adult ADHD Claimants Soar to Double Digits
While ADHD is often associated with childhood focus in the classroom, it’s not a disorder that affects children alone. Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the rise, with total drug costs associated with ADHD medications growing at double-digit rates since 2019. New findings from the GreenShield Administration Drug Trends Report reveal that this is a trend that is here to stay. In 2022, the number of ADHD claimants grew by 15 per cent, with six of every 100 GreenShield Administration claimants now using ADHD medications. More granularly, ADHD was found to be more prevalent in patients younger than 25 years old, males, and in certain provinces like Quebec and Newfoundland. However, while non-adult claimants show higher ADHD prevalence, the adult cohort has shown a steady and notable growth in prevalence.
While ADHD is treated through a combination of approaches, including behavioural therapy, social skills training, and pharmacotherapy, several new therapeutics are offered to help support those struggling with its symptoms. Pharmacotherapeutics including lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) and methylphenidate (Concerta) are often the most frequently prescribed – all which are accounted for by the rise in ADHD drug claims.
Trend #2: Sweet Relief for Migraines
Headaches and migraines are not a new ailment, however new treatments and therapeutics continue to emerge to not only tackle this debilitating ailment but help prevent it. Traditionally, migraines have been treated with pain relievers, such as triptans, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and even opioids. However, more recently, a new category of biologic drug treatments, called anti-CGRPs (calcitonin gene-related peptide), such as Aimovig, Ajovy, and Emgality have been approved. These medications are designed to prevent migraines by targeting CGRP, a protein involved in generating the head pain associated with migraines. The GreenShield Administration Drug Trends Report suggests a growth in appetite for these new preventative measures, citing a 28.2 per cent annualized growth rate between 2018 and 2022. With many seeing success from this new innovation in migraine care, these new biologic treatments have increased existing migraine patients’ overall drug cost by 132 per cent over the last three years.
Trend #3: A Rise in Claimants for Asthma and COPD
According to the 2023 GreenShield Administration Drug Trends Report, medications primarily used for asthma and COPD were claimed by 16 per cent, or 382,000 of claimants in 2022. Interestingly enough, and similar to migraines, biologic medications are now being prescribed to treat asthma. As a result, GreenShield reports the number of claimants using biologic medications to manage severe asthma experienced a 13.5 per cent annualized growth rate between 2018 and 2022.
GreenShield Champions Better Health for All
The 2023 GreenShield Administration Drug Trends Report underscores GreenShield’s commitment to closely monitor emerging trends in the drug landscape, and proactively innovate and adapt its offerings. In fact, GreenShield is the only organization in Canada operating as an integrated payer-provider — offering insurance, administering benefits, and paying claims as a ‘payer’ while offering health services such as mental health, pharmacy, and medical services as a ‘provider.’ Integrating both sides of the payer-provider equation simplifies access to care, removes administrative barriers, and improves health outcomes for its customers. This unique ability to offer a full end-to-end suite of integrated health and benefits technology and services, allow customers of all sizes to seamlessly access new therapies that address drug trends and therapies old and new.
What’s more is that as a not-for-profit health and benefits company, GreenShield reinvests its earnings and redeploys services to support underserved Canadian communities via its social impact brand, GreenShield Cares. The company’s overarching goal is to generate $75 million of social impact investments to improve the lives of at least 1 million Canadians by 2025, with a focus on mental health, oral health, and essential medicines.
To access the full 2023 GreenShield Drug Trends Report click here. To learn more about GreenShield’s mission to provide better health for all, please visit https://www.greenshield.ca/en-ca/administration.