PHARMACY

CVS to offer discounts on certain medications to its patients

BY Brian Berk

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health will launch Reduced Rx, a prescription savings program that will offer discounts on certain medications through CVS Health's pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark directly to patients. The program will help patients with high out of pocket costs afford essential medications.

Novo Nordisk will participate in the prescription savings program. Through this program, CVS Health and Novo Nordisk will offer Novolin R, Novolin N and Novolin 70/30 human insulin at a cost of $25 per 10ml vial, which reflects a potential savings of as much as $100 for cash paying patients.

"We developed the Reduced Rx prescription savings program with Novo Nordisk because we both recognized a need and an opportunity to make critical medications more affordable for patients," said Jonathan Roberts, EVP and Chief Operating Officer, CVS Health. "This savings program will leverage CVS Caremark's expertise in providing lower cost prescription drugs and fulfill our company's purpose of helping people on their path to better health."

The Reduced Rx launch follows another affordability announcement made earlier this year by CVS Health. Working with Impax Laboratories, CVS Health announced in January that it has made the authorized generic for Adrenaclick, an epinephrine auto-injector for patients with allergic reactions, available at all CVS Pharmacy locations at the lowest cash price in the market, $109.99 for a two-pack. CVS Health collaborated to create both the generic Adrenaclick offering and the Reduced Rx program in response to consumer need for low cost options.

"This program underscores how important collaboration is to addressing the affordability challenges patients face in certain health plans or who remain uninsured. We all have a role to play and that's why we welcomed the chance to work with CVS Health on this program," said Doug Langa, SVP and head of North America Operations, Novo Nordisk. "We're committed to developing sustainable solutions with customers and will continue to pursue opportunities to ensure that patients have access to insulin that is affordable."

Reduced Rx will allow patients to purchase medications at a reduced cost at any of the more than 67,000 pharmacies in the CVS Caremark retail network, including the more than 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the U.S. Patients using the Reduced Rx prescription savings program will need to pay the cost of the medication out of pocket; the program cannot be used with any prescription drug insurance coverage.

"With nearly 10% of the U.S. population living with diabetes, ensuring patients have access to affordable insulin is more important than ever," said Troyen Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. "We're pleased that our Reduced Rx prescription savings program can help assure that effective medications are also affordable."

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PHARMACY

Legislation to expose PBM rebates filed in Senate

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., on Wednesday introduced legislation that would, for the first time, require Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Medicare to disclose their aggregate rebates provided by drug manufacturers, as well as the amount of those rebates that are passed on to health plans, therefore lowering prices for people who need prescription drugs.

“Today is the first step of an effort to lift the veil of secrecy about prescription drug prices,” Wyden said.  “This bill will shine a light on this opaque industry and promote competition to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.”

That level of transparency would disrupt the marketplace, the association representing pharmacy benefit managers countered.

"PBMs support the right kind of transparency that offers consumers and plan sponsors the information they need to make the choices that are right for them," the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association stated in a release issued Wednesday. "However, this bill will increase premiums by undermining the tools employers, unions, and public programs including Medicare, use to reduce prescription drug costs.

PBMs typically reduce prescription drug costs by 30% by using their scale and expertise to negotiate discounts from competing drug companies and drugstores, PCMA noted.

"NCPA agrees with Senator Wyden's goal for more transparency from pharmacy benefit managers," stated Douglas Hoey, CEO for the National Community Pharmacists Association. "There's mounting evidence that PBM profits grow in lock step with — and contribute to — rising prescription drug costs. A big part of that problem is the manufacturer rebate revenue retained by PBMs, which is this intended focus of this legislation."

The bill, the Creating Transparency to Have Drug Rebates Unlocked (C-THRU) Act, would take several steps to improve transparency, Wyden noted. It would require PBMs to disclose the aggregate amount of rebates they receive from pharmaceutical companies and what proportion of those rebates go to Americans in Medicare.

However, the C-THRU Act would grant the kind of transparency that the Federal Trade Commission and economists say will raise costs by giving drug companies and drug stores unprecedented pricing power that could help them tacitly collude with their competitors, PCMA argued.

 

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Alembic debuts Sporanox generic

BY Brian Berk

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Alembic Pharmaceuticals launched its generic of Sporanox (itraconazole) capsules. The drug is an antifungal used to treat certain fungal or yeast infections.

Alembic will offer the drug in a 100-mg dosage strength. This marks Alembic’s 28th product launch in the United States since its commencement of U.S. operations. 

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