PBMs; Pharmacy Benefit Manager

News Briefs: Dept. of Justice to appeal 340B ruling | January 13, 2022

New drugs are becoming less expensive to bring to market and more profitable at launch, according to a new Deloitte Ltd. white paper. “Cost to bring an asset to market has declined over the past three years, as peak sales forecasts increase,” the report says. “The combined cohort’s average cost to develop an asset was $2,006 million, a decrease of $370 million from 2020....This decrease in 2021 compared to 2020 is due mainly to the overall increase in the number of assets in the late-stage pipeline.” However, the report also notes that this figure is “an increase of $710 million from 2013.” In addition, the cycle time for drug development has increased, especially since the start of the pandemic.

New Hampshire is the latest state to settle its suit against Centene Corp, accepting $21 million from the Medicaid-focused carrier. More than a dozen states have sued the health insurer, accusing Centene of mismanaging their Medicaid programs’ pharmacy benefits. As with the other settlements, in the New Hampshire agreement Centene denied it was liable for any wrongdoing or violations of federal or state statute. The insurer has paid out more than $241 million in settlements with Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi and Ohio out of the $1.25 billion it set aside earlier this year to settle such suits.

News Briefs: Alignment Health Plan will cover Grail’s Galleri liquid biopsy | Dec. 9, 2021

Alignment Health Plan and Grail, LLC signed an agreement that will provide its members access to Galleri, a multicancer early detection blood test. Alignment is a national Medicare Advantage (MA) plan from Alignment Healthcare. The deal makes it the first MA plan to offer the liquid biopsy, which is used as a complement to recommended single cancer screenings and can detect more than 50 types of cancer. It is available by prescription only. New and existing plan members in select HMO and PPO plans in California and North Carolina will have access to Galleri starting Jan. 1.

Obesity Management Targets Complex Disease via New Drugs, Better Awareness

Despite significant medical advances in the U.S. on numerous fronts, obesity management seems stalled by many clinicians’ reliance on a regimen of “diet and exercise” alone to treat as well as prevent. Obesity medicine specialists cite the increasing availability of safe and effective anti-obesity medications on the market — with dozens more in the pipeline — to allow for a multipronged treatment approach, but they point out that physicians seldom prescribe such drugs, and insurers often balk at paying for them.

This is partly because individuals with obesity, an increasingly prevalent, serious and costly disease, continue to confront the societal bias that “lifestyle choices” are to blame, experts say. It is also because obesity is a complex disease to treat, not merely a matter of gauging body mass index (BMI), they explain, and unless treated effectively, it may become the pathway to a wide array of chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, asthma and some types of cancer, as well as disability and premature death.

Big Three PBMs’ 3Q Results Make Up for Insurer Disappointments

The three largest PBMs — Cigna Corp.’s Express Scripts, UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx, and CVS Health Corp.’s Caremark — each posted strong results in the third quarter of 2021. Indeed, those PBMs were essential — in the eyes of Wall Street — to making up for the impact of COVID-19 on the profitability of their parent companies’ health insurance subsidiaries.

Cigna Corp.’s Evernorth, the parent company of Express Scripts, took in $31.9 billion in pharmacy revenue for the first three quarters of 2021, up from $28.7 billion in the same period during 2020. Wall Street analysts were bullish on Evernorth and Express Scripts despite skepticism of Cigna’s overall performance.

Smaller PBMs Beat Big Firms in Customer Satisfaction

Plan sponsors’ overall satisfaction with their PBMs increased from 8.0 on a 1-10 scale in 2020 to 8.2 in 2021, according to Pharmaceutical Strategies Group’s 2021 Pharmacy Benefit Manager Customer Satisfaction Report. Based on surveys completed by 291 plan sponsors who provide pharmacy benefits to their employees, the report found that PBMs with 20 million or fewer members tend to have higher satisfaction ratings than larger PBMs. Average satisfaction was highest for PBMs’ opioid management programs, while gene therapy financial protection programs rated the lowest and only 13% of the respondents used such programs. Among PBMs with more than 20 million members, MedImpact scored the highest overall satisfaction rate (8.5).

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.

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.

Humana/Anthem PBM Venture Could Attract More Blues Plans

Humana Inc. and Anthem, Inc. are teaming up with hedge fund administrator SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc. to create DomaniRx, a new joint venture that aims to offer a “best-in-class” PBM cloud-based claims adjudication platform. Humana will be the first customer for DomaniRx, the companies say, and industry observers predict a potential market among Blues plans and Medicare Advantage plans.