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CVS Health Research Institute examines tools to slow cost growth of specialty meds

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As specialty drug spending continues to rise and is predicted to grow by more than 16% annually from 2015 to 2018, CVS Health researchers examine the reasons for such dramatic increases in spending and discuss tools to help manage these escalating costs in an article published in the October issue of Health Affairs

CVS Health data shows that between 2012 and 2013, spending on specialty drugs increased by 15.6%, while spending on traditional medications grew by only 0.8%. As noted, this trend is only expected to increase, with specialty drug spending predicted to grow by more than 16% annually from 2015 to 2018, ultimately accounting for approximately $235 billion, or more than 50%, of total drug spending by 2018.

“As specialty drugs begin to address the needs of an increasingly broad range of patients across several therapeutic areas, there is a growing need for solutions that drive the best patient outcomes at the lowest costs,” stated Alan M. Lotvin, EVP, CVS/specialty at CVS Health.  “Significant opportunities exist to bend the cost curve of specialty medications by eliminating waste, inducing price competition and reducing or preventing costly complications.”

The article outlines drivers of rising costs, including the increasing complexity and effectiveness of new medications, the changing dynamics of target populations that broaden the pool of patients eligible for treatment and how and where specialty medications are delivered. It examines how approaches that have been successful in managing cost growth for traditional medications over the past 10 years could be applied to specialty medications, while ensuring adherence to clinical guidelines.

“Spending growth in specialty drugs is not a given,” stated Troyen A. Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health.  “To slow cost growth, payers must be willing to embrace a variety of strategies used to manage traditional medications as well as some novel approaches that will require a multi-faceted and holistic approach including the collaboration of those who prescribe, dispense, deliver, pay for, and receive specialty medications.”

The authors share insights into cost management strategies that can help achieve the goal of balancing positive health outcomes with reducing sky-rocketing costs. These include applying traditional drug management plan design elements such as prior authorization and step therapy based on evidenced-based medicine, implementation of tiered formularies to stimulate price competition, and utilization of the lowest-cost site of care for delivery and administration of specialty medications.
 

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Walgreens institutes developer challenge to spur Balance Rewards integration in health-focused apps

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreens on Monday announced it is conducting a developer contest to encourage integration of its Balance Rewards application program interface (API), which allows users of other apps to earn Balance Rewards loyalty program points for making healthy choices. Rewards points can be redeemed for merchandise in-store or online.
 
“Through our API developer program, we’re able to extend our loyalty program into the digital ecosystem, ultimately reaching more consumers and rewarding them for their healthy activities,” said Abhi Dhar, group VP and chief technology officer, digital, at Walgreens. “By developing more API offerings, we’re continuing to invest in developer relationships and see the value they deliver.”
 
From now through Nov. 28, third-party app developers can access contest details and submit an integrated app entry by visiting the Balance Rewards App Challenge page. Winners will be announced during the Walgreens session at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in Washington D.C., Dec. 7 to 11. 
 
Categories, awards and selection criteria are as follows:
 
  • Walgreens Best Overall App Integration Award ($7,000) – The prize will be based on the quality of the app integration idea, successful integration of the Balance Rewards API and impact for app customers to lead a happy and healthy life;
  • Henry Ford Health System Patient Engagement Award ($3,000) – As a supporter of the challenge, Henry Ford Health System will offer an award that is based on the potential to incent healthy patient behavior and engagement, while increasing or easing the ability to manage chronic conditions. This criteria is in addition to the quality of the app integration idea and successful integration of the Balance Rewards API; and
  • People's Choice for Best App Integration Award ($3,000) – Voted on by ChallengePost users and also will be based on the quality of the app integration idea, successful integration of the Balance Rewards API and impact for app customers to lead a happy and healthy life.
In 2012, Walgreens launched its QuickPrints API, which enabled photo apps to provide users with the convenience of sending photos directly to Walgreens for printing. At that time, less than 1% of the company’s digital print business came from mobile. Today, 40% comes from mobile with more than 125 third-party photo app integrations.
 
The following year, the Prescription API was launched and allowed for seamless prescription refill and transfer capabilities for users of third-party apps. Most recently, Walgreens launched its Balance Rewards API to extend the company’s Balance Rewards for healthy choices program — the first loyalty program to offer consumers rewards for healthy choices.
 
Popular fitness devices and apps such as GenieMD, HoMedics, LifeTrak, Lose It!, Misfit, Nudge, Omron Fitness and RunKeeper have integrated the Balance Rewards API, allowing users to automatically earn points for healthy activities like walking, running and biking.
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New L’Occitane Atlanta flagship boutique one of few ‘Provence Home’ concept stores

BY Antoinette Alexander

ATLANTA — French natural beauty retailer L'Occitane has opened doors to its latest U.S. store in Atlanta, marking the retailer’s largest flagship in the United States and one of its first new “Provence Home” concept stores.

The store is one of 17 stores to open in the new $1 billion Buckhead Atlanta development.

"L'Occitane takes great care in selecting where we open our beautiful flagship stores around the world, and so we are delighted that our third flagship in the U.S., and the first in Georgia, is opening in the magnificent Buckhead Atlanta shopping center," said David Boynton, CEO of L'Occitane.

The flagship is the fifth L'Occitane boutique to open in the Atlanta area. The “Provence Home” concept conveys a warm, inviting and generous atmosphere in which the customer can discover the richness of the brand's story in a new way, the company explained.  A space where they can experience the region of Provence, even from miles away, through a range of warm materials, contemporary yet authentic designs, displays and features, including a "golden sun" chandelier made entirely of the brand's signature and never-fading Immortelle flowers from Corsica.

 

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