RADAR on Specialty Pharmacy

FDA Grants Interchangeable Status to Humira Biosimilar; Payers Should Prepare Now for 2023 Launches

Less than three months after granting interchangeable status to a biosimilar for the first time, the FDA has approved that status for a second biosimilar, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Cyltezo (adalimumab-adbm). It and multiple other biosimilars of AbbVie Inc.’s Humira (adalimumab) are slated to come onto the U.S. market in 2023, but plans should be preparing now for the drugs’ launches, say industry experts. Still, a handful of factors could pose an issue with the agents’ taking market share from the reference product.

New Tecartus FDA Approval for Adults With ALL Offers Welcome Therapeutic Option

On Oct. 1, the FDA gave another indication to Gilead Sciences, Inc. division Kite Pharma, Inc.’s Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel) for the treatment of people 18 years and older with relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). According to a Zitter Insights survey, oncologists said they are likely to prescribe the drug over certain therapies for that indication. Industry experts tell AIS Health, a division of MMIT, that the agent may be a game changer for certain patients, as it fills a treatment gap.

Prime Therapeutics Launches IntegratedRx – Oncology, Partners on MIP Accreditation

Many people fighting cancer must get their oral oncolytics from a central fill specialty pharmacy, which can add to the time it takes for a prescription to be filled, as well as potential waste when an oncologist changes a medication. Prime Therapeutics LLC recently unveiled a new program known as IntegratedRx - Oncology that the PBM says will help coordinate care for members and streamline the treatment process.

Prime serves more than 33 million people. It is collectively owned by 19 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those plans.

New FDA Approvals: FDA Grants Additional Approval to Verzenio | Nov. 16, 2021

Oct. 13: The FDA expanded the indication of Eli Lilly and Co.’s Verzenio (abemaciclib) in combination with endocrine therapy (tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor) for the adjuvant treatment of adults with hormone receptor-positive (HR+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-), node-positive, early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence and a Ki-67 score of ­>20% as determined by an FDA-approved test. The tablet is the only CDK4/6 inhibitor approved for this indication. The FDA initially approved the drug on Sept. 28, 2017. Recommended dosing for this use is 150 mg twice daily. The monthly list price is $13,058.08.

News Briefs: Oncopeptides AB is withdrawing Pepaxto from the U.S. market | Nov. 16, 2021

Oncopeptides AB is voluntarily withdrawing Pepaxto (melphalan flufenamide) from the U.S. market, the company disclosed on Oct. 22. The FDA gave the therapy accelerated approval on Feb. 26, 2021, in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four lines of therapy and whose disease is refractory to at least one proteasome inhibitor, one immunomodulatory agent and one CD38-directed monoclonal antibody. The company said that the decision follows the Phase III OCEAN study, which “the FDA does not consider…meets the criteria of a confirmatory study.”

FDA Extends Xeljanz Safety Warnings to Other JAK Inhibitors

The FDA is requiring revisions about increased risk of serious heart-related events such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, blood clots and death to the labels of the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors indicated for inflammatory conditions: Pfizer Inc.’s Xeljanz/Xeljanz XR (tofacitinib), Eli Lilly and Co.’s Olumiant (baricitinib) and AbbVie Inc.’s Rinvoq (upadacitinib). The move follows the agency’s review of a large, randomized safety clinical trial of Xeljanz. The FDA also is limiting the approved uses for all the drugs to certain people who have not responded to or cannot tolerate at least one tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor. While some payers may already have had TNF inhibitors as a first step, they need to make sure that they have utilization management strategies in place to help ensure these drugs are used in the second-line setting, recommend industry experts.

FDA Approves Byooviz, First Ophthalmology Biosimilar in U.S.

The FDA approval of the first biosimilar for ocular use is poised to bring savings to a costly class, particularly in Medicare. However, ophthalmologists’ and retinologists’ lack of experience with biosimilars is a potential roadblock to these drugs’ uptake. Payers should focus on provider education and outreach ahead of these drugs’ launches in order to ease concerns about their use, say industry experts.

Groups Warn Against Avastin Biosimilar Off-Label Use in Eyes

Biosimilars are finally starting to bring down the prices of their innovator products across a range of indications, research shows. The FDA often approves biosimilars across some or all of the innovator drug’s indications even if applicant companies have not conducted studies in those uses. But two professional societies have been pushing back against payers’ allowance of two Avastin (bevacizumab) biosimilars in untested ocular indications.

Walgreens Makes Majority Investment in Shields Health

Walgreens Boots Alliance recently revealed that it is making a majority investment in Shields Health Solutions through its subsidiary Walgreen Co. The deal will expand Walgreens’ position within the growing hospital-based specialty pharmacy space.

Shields is a specialty pharmacy integrator that partners with health systems to help them create and grow a hospital-owned specialty pharmacy program. The hospitals own the pharmacies while Shields manages them.

New FDA Specialty Approvals

✦ Sept. 15: The FDA granted another indication to BeiGene, Ltd.’s Brukinsa (zanubrutinib), giving it accelerated approval for the treatment of people with relapsed or refractory marginal zone lymphoma following treatment with at least one anti-CD20-based regimen. The agency first approved the drug on Nov. 14, 2019. The recommended dose of the capsule is 160 mg twice daily or 320 mg once daily. Website Drugs.com lists the price of 120 80 mg capsules as more than $14,094.00.