Rare Diseases/Orphan Drugs

Collaboration Is Needed Among Stakeholders for Genetic Tests to Be Beneficial

As researchers gain growing insight into the mechanics of what makes diseases tick, more and more genetic tests are coming onto the market to help make sure the right patient gets the right drug at the right time. While these diagnostics can help inform diagnosis and treatment for patients, the sheer volume of these tests may be overwhelming payers in their coverage decisions. Stakeholders should work together to help establish the clinical utility that payers need to make coverage decisions on these diagnostics, industry experts say.

Daryl Pritchard, Ph.D., senior vice president of science policy at the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC), describes the landscape of coverage for genetic testing as “uneven. Payers are increasingly considering coverage and reimbursement of genetic testing products and services.” However, he tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT, “there remain significant challenges in establishing coverage policies and payment rates for diagnostic tests that reflect the value of their care. As a result, many newer novel diagnostics are under-reimbursed or not covered at all. Such practices ultimately restrict patient access to some needed tests and to optimal care. Coverage and reimbursement policies vary widely among different payers, and decision-making processes are often inconsistent and not transparent.”

New FDA Approvals: FDA Approves Sotyktu

Sept. 9: The FDA approved Bristol Myers Squibb’s Sotyktu (deucravacitinib) for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. The agent is a first-in-class, oral, selective, allosteric tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor. The recommended dosage of the tablet is 6 mg once daily. The list price for a 30-day supply is $6,164.

Sept. 9: The FDA approved Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Rolvedon (eflapegrastim-xnst) to decrease the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in adults with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anti-cancer drugs associated with clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia. The manufacturer says it is the first novel long-acting granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) approved in more than 20 years. The recommended dose is 13.2 mg administered subcutaneously once per chemotherapy cycle. The company says it expects the product to be available in fourth-quarter 2022.

Accelerated Approval Prices Are Unrelated to Clinical Value, Study Says

The manufacturers of many drugs granted accelerated approval by the FDA do not complete timely confirmatory trials of the drugs’ efficacy, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs — meaning that the pricing for many accelerated approval drugs has nothing to do with their clinical efficacy. The study’s author tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT, that “the market doesn’t work very well” for drugs that have received accelerated approval, and “what it leads us to is overpaying at the beginning and underpaying, potentially, later.”

After a drug is granted accelerated approval, the FDA mandates that the drug be evaluated using confirmatory clinical trials. The accelerated approval designation is given to new, unproven drugs that could potentially meet a dire need for a new or more effective therapy to treat a terminal disease. The intention behind the confirmatory trial system is to make sure that the drug actually does what its developer says it will.

New FDA Approvals: FDA Converts Accelerated Approval to Full for Tabrecta

Aug. 10: The FDA converted the accelerated approval for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s Tabrecta (capmatinib) to full approval for the treatment of adults with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a mutation that leads to mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) exon 14 skipping as detected by an FDA-approved test. The agency granted that accelerated approval on May 6, 2020. Dosing of the tablet is 400 mg twice daily. GoodRx lists the price of 112 200 mg tablets as more than $19,667.

Aug. 11: The FDA gave accelerated approval to AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.’s Enhertu (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) for adults with unresectable or metastatic NSCLC whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations as detected by an FDA-approved test (see below briefs) and who have received a prior systemic therapy. This is the first drug that the agency has approved for HER2-mutant NSCLC. The FDA first approved the antibody drug conjugate on Dec. 20, 2019. The drug received priority review and breakthrough therapy designation. Dosing for the newest use is 5.4 mg/kg via intravenous infusion once every three weeks.

Survey Finds That Payers Are Covering Sequential Use of SMA Agents

A recent FDA approval of a label expansion put the three marketed therapies for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) on equal footing for the youngest patients. And recent survey found that many payers are covering sequential use of the costly agents, including a gene therapy.

The FDA initially approved Evrysdi (risdiplam) from Roche Group member Genentech USA, Inc. on Aug. 7, 2020, for the treatment of SMA in people at least 2 months old. On May 30, 2022, the agency expanded the drug’s label to include the treatment of infants less than 2 months old. The survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2) splicing modifier is an oral solution administered by mouth or feeding tube and can be administered by a patient or caregiver at home after a recommended consultation with a health care professional prior to the first dose.

New FDA Approvals: FDA Expands Patient Population for Diacomit

July 14: The FDA expanded the patient population of Biocodex, Inc.’s Diacomit (stiripentol) for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in people between the ages of 6 months to 2 years and weighing at least 7 kg who are taking clobazam. The agency first approved the treatment on Aug. 20, 2018. The drug is available as a capsule and an oral suspension. Dosing is 50 mg/kg/day for both routes of administration. Drugs.com lists the price of 60 250 mg capsules and 60 250 mg powder for reconstitution as more than $1,589.

July 14: The FDA expanded the label of Pfizer Inc.’s Xalkori (crizotinib) to include the treatment of people at least 1 year old with unresectable, recurrent or refractory inflammatory anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive myofibroblastic tumors. The agency initially approved the kinase inhibitor on Aug. 26, 2011. The FDA gave the agent orphan drug designation and granted the application priority review; that review used the Assessment Aid, a voluntary submission from the applicant to assist the FDA in its analysis. Dosing for the newest indication of the capsule in adults is 250 mg twice daily. The recommended pediatric dosage is 280 mg.m2 twice daily based on body surface area. Drugs.com lists the price of 60 250 mg capsules as more than $20,657.

Researchers Examine CF, UC/Crohn’s Adherence, Say Specialty Pharmacies ‘Could Help Reduce Medical Burden’

Two recent studies of specialty-drug treated conditions examined the impact of adherence on hospitalizations and medical costs. Findings of the studies — one on cystic fibrosis (CF) and the other on ulcerative colitis (UC)/Crohn’s disease — from AllianceRx Walgreens Prime (which changed its name to AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy in late June) demonstrate the importance of specialty pharmacy interventions in helping keep patients adherent to therapy.

The study posters were presented at the recent International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research 2022 Conference held in Washington, D.C.

Expanded Label Puts SMA Drugs on Even Terms for Youngest Patients

A recent FDA approval of a label expansion put the three marketed therapies for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) on equal footing for the youngest patients. A recent survey found that many payers are covering sequential use of the costly agents, including a gene therapy.

The FDA initially approved Evrysdi (risdiplam) from Roche Group member Genentech USA, Inc. on Aug. 7, 2020, for the treatment of SMA in people at least 2 months old. On May 30, 2022, the agency expanded the drug’s label to include the treatment of babies less than 2 months old. The medication is an oral solution administered by mouth or feeding tube and can be administered by a patient or caregiver at home after a recommended consultation with a health care professional prior to the first dose.

New FDA Approvals: FDA Grants Additional Indication to CellCept

June 6: The FDA expanded the label of Roche Group member Genentech USA, Inc.’s CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) to include, in combination with other immunosuppressants, prophylaxis of organ rejection in people at least 3 months old who have received an allogenic heart transplant or an allogenic liver transplant. The agency first approved the drug on May 3, 1995. Dosing for the newest uses is based on body surface area and indication. The drug is available as a capsule, tablet, oral suspension and intravenous injectable. Website GoodRx.com lists the price of 60 500 mg tablets as more than $1,070.

June 7: The FDA granted another indication to Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Dupixent (dupilumab) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in people between the ages of 6 months and 5 years whose disease is not adequately controlled with topical prescription therapies or when those therapies are not advisable. The agency initially approved the subcutaneous injectable on March 28, 2017. The FDA gave the new indication priority review. Dosing for people weighing 5 kg to less than 15 kg is 200 mg every four weeks; for those weighing 15 kg to less than 30 kg, dosing is 300 mg every four weeks. The drug’s list price, regardless of dose, is $3,384.83 per carton, which includes either two prefilled pens or two prefilled syringes.

Optum Looks to Create Industry Standard for Genetic Testing Management

Optum says it hopes to create the industry standard for genetic testing benefit management programs — across all business lines and payers nationwide — with a solution that the UnitedHealth Group subsidiary is launching with Avalon Healthcare Solutions using genetic testing codes and other assets licensed from Palmetto GBA.

The solution is part of a comprehensive laboratory benefit management program that the companies unveiled June 22. Although 99% of all lab tests conducted today are routine tests, 10 new genetic tests are coming to the market each day, says John Hoffman, vice president of payer market at Optum. He and colleagues from Optum and Avalon outlined the solution at AHIP 2022 in Las Vegas.

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