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Report: “Specialty” drugs are by far the most expensive, but classification seems arbitrary

The prescriptions with the most eye-popping price tags — like cancer meds that can cost more than $20,000 a month — are usually classified as “specialty” drugs.

You’d think that since they’re so costly, there would be clear criteria for putting drugs in the specialty category. But, according to a new report, you’d be wrong.

The issue might seem arcane, but it’s hugely important. Specialty drugs account for only about 2% of the volume of drugs dispensed in the United States, according to industry estimates, but they also account for more than 50% of overall drug spending.


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