Payer

Radar On Market Access: Does New Medicare Plan Finder Make Part D Plans Tougher to Parse?

October 1, 2019

Some Medicare experts are expressing concern and frustration about changes to the Medicare Plan Finder that may make it more difficult for beneficiaries to find the best Part D plan for their unique circumstances, AIS Health reported.

Some Medicare experts are expressing concern and frustration about changes to the Medicare Plan Finder that may make it more difficult for beneficiaries to find the best Part D plan for their unique circumstances, AIS Health reported.

For example, the version of the new plan finder that CMS debuted does not include the ability to sort Part D plans based on a beneficiary’s total out-of-pocket drug costs (including plan premium) for the rest of the year, says Ann Kayrish, who is the National Council on Aging’s senior program manager for Medicare.

The good news, she says, is that CMS notified stakeholders that the total-cost calculator feature will be in place in time for the annual election period (AEP) that begins Oct. 15 — which CMS confirmed to AIS Health.

However, Kayrish says it’s still problematic that the total-cost calculator isn’t yet available to test before the hectic AEP begins. “We don’t want open enrollment to be like a beta test for the new plan finder,” she says.

Elizabeth Gavino, founder of insurance consulting firm Lewin & Gavino and an independent broker and a general agent for Medicare plans located in the New York City area, also has qualms with the way the new plan finder is designed.

The old plan finder allowed brokers to quickly scan multiple Part D plans and see whether all of the person’s medications are on their formularies. Now, that information is only available by clicking on a “plan details” button for each individual Part D plan, she explains.

“I could do a review for a client in 10 minutes” with the old system, Gavino says. “The way it is now, this is going to be a nightmare.”

MMIT Reality Check on Soft Tissue Sarcoma (Sep 2019)

September 27, 2019

According to our recent payer coverage analysis for soft tissue sarcoma treatments, combined with news from key healthcare influencers, market access is shifting in this drug landscape.

According to our recent payer coverage analysis for soft tissue sarcoma treatments, combined with news from key healthcare influencers, market access is shifting in this drug landscape.

To help make sense of this new research, MMIT’s team of experts analyzes the data and summarizes the key findings for you. The following are brief highlights. To read the full piece, including payer coverage, drug competition and prescriber trends, click here.

Payer Coverage: A review of market access for soft tissue sarcoma treatments shows that under the pharmacy benefit, about 60% and 70% of the lives under commercial and Medicare formularies are covered with utilization management restrictions, respectively.

Trends: In April 2019, Eli Lilly and Co. said it will withdraw advanced soft tissue sarcoma drug Lartruvo (olaratumab) from the market. The move follows the failure of a Phase III trial in which the therapy did not improve patient survival .

Radar On Market Access: Industry Groups Praise OIG Report on Medicare Part D Rebates

September 26, 2019

Industry trade groups that would like rebates preserved in the Medicare Part D purchasing system were thrilled to see a Sept. 13 report from the HHS Office of Inspector General that they viewed as dispelling the oft-purported “myth” that rebates are responsible for high drug prices, AIS Health reported.

Industry trade groups that would like rebates preserved in the Medicare Part D purchasing system were thrilled to see a Sept. 13 report from the HHS Office of Inspector General that they viewed as dispelling the oft-purported “myth” that rebates are responsible for high drug prices, AIS Health reported.

The report examining the more than 1,510 brand-name drugs with Part D reimbursement and rebates between 2011 and 2015 found that rebates did not always go up when unit reimbursement grew.

The report also observed that total rebates for brand-name drugs reviewed in Part D rose from $9 billion in 2011 to $17 billion in 2015, but the majority (60%) of that rebate growth was driven by only 10% of drugs. Furthermore, OIG said that while rebates substantially reduced overall Part D spending growth, “they did not prevent increased overall Part D spending…as Medicare still spent $2 billion more for brand-name drugs with rebates in 2015 than in 2011.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans issued a statement from President and CEO Matt Eyles: “This new HHS-OIG report…clearly demonstrates our effectiveness as a negotiator — and the rebates we secure for seniors in Part D lead to lower costs.”

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association also praised the report for putting to rest “the false narrative about PBM-negotiated rebates” and confirming that rebates lead to lower prescription drug costs in Part D.

But one industry expert says he doesn’t think this will alter any possible government action on drug pricing and Part D.

“The OIG’s analysis is unfortunately a historical document — in that it only reports on changes in drug prices through 2015,” observes Avalere Health Founder Dan Mendelson. And while rebates are “an important market mechanism” for negotiating drug prices, rebates “alone won’t solve the consumer crisis of drug affordability,” he says.

Radar On Market Access: Health Plans Are Hesitant to Add New Narcolepsy Drugs to Formularies

September 24, 2019

Two newly approved narcolepsy medications offer novel, possibly more effective options to people for whom older medications aren’t working well, but most health plans are requiring patients and providers to try generic alternatives first, AIS Health reported.

Two newly approved narcolepsy medications offer novel, possibly more effective options to people for whom older medications aren’t working well, but most health plans are requiring patients and providers to try generic alternatives first, AIS Health reported.

The FDA approved Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ Sunosi (solriamfetol) for adults with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea in March and Harmony Biosciences, LLC’s Wakix (pitolisant) in August. Sunosi was launched in July, and Wakix is expected to be launched later this year.

Some researchers say Sunosi and Wakix may have advantages over older treatments. Still, plans have been reluctant so far to add Sunosi to their preferred drug lists, and they seem likely to take the same cautious approach with Wakix.

First-line treatment for narcolepsy generally involves stimulant medications such as methylphenidate, amphetamines or modafinil/armodafinil, says Mesfin Tegenu, R.Ph., president of PerformRx. “Efficacy of the agents rarely exceeds around 70% to 80% of the normal ability to stay awake,” Tegenu tells AIS Health.

Some stimulants, including modafinil and some forms of methylphenidates and amphetamines, are available in generic form, Tegenu says. “Many plans may require trial(s) of an available generic product prior to payment of a brand-only formulation, or trial of less costly alternatives to higher-priced generic items if there’s a significant price difference,” he says.

It’s not clear whether either Sunosi or Wakix provide substantially better outcomes than the therapies currently in use, says April Kunze, Pharm.D., senior director, clinical formulary development and trend management strategy at Prime Therapeutics LLC.

Tegenu says that both Sunosi and Wakix are non-formulary products for now for PerformRx, since it’s not possible to know whether they’re equally or more effective than older treatments. They will be “handled the same as all newly available drugs: considered non-formulary until enough clinical data is made available to add them to the covered medications class of drugs.”

MMIT Reality Check on Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (Sep 2019)

September 20, 2019

According to our recent payer coverage analysis for immune thrombocytopenic purpura treatments, combined with news from key healthcare influencers, market access is shifting in this drug landscape.

According to our recent payer coverage analysis for immune thrombocytopenic purpura treatments, combined with news from key healthcare influencers, market access is shifting in this drug landscape.

To help make sense of this new research, MMIT’s team of experts analyzes the data and summarizes the key findings for you. The following are brief highlights. To read the full piece, including payer coverage, drug competition and prescriber trends, click here.

Payer Coverage: A review of market access for immune thrombocytopenic purpura treatments shows that under the pharmacy benefit, about 63% of the lives under commercial formularies are covered with utilization management restrictions.

Trends: In June 2019, the FDA gave an additional indication to Doptelet (avatrombopag) for the treatment of thrombocytopenia who have had an insufficient response to prior treatment.

Radar On Market Access: AML Therapy Class Has Seen Boom Over Past Couple of Years

September 19, 2019

The FDA has approved nearly 10 therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) over the past couple of years. Because most of them target a specific biomarker, it’s critical that people diagnosed with the condition undergo genetic testing to determine whether they fall into a particular patient subgroup, AIS Health reported.

The FDA has approved nearly 10 therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) over the past couple of years. Because most of them target a specific biomarker, it’s critical that people diagnosed with the condition undergo genetic testing to determine whether they fall into a particular patient subgroup, AIS Health reported.

“Prior to two years ago, we had no new drugs for over a decade, and now we have eight new drugs approved in just the last two years, so the whole field has changed,” said Daniel J. DeAngelo, M.D., Ph.D., chief, division of leukemia, institute physician, professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, in an interview published on the website obroncology.com.

Many of the newer drugs are oral formulations, which, “in general, are easier to administer,” points out Mesfin Tegenu, R.Ph., president of PerformRx, LLC. “Rather than having to go into a hospital or clinic for treatment, a patient can simply take a medication orally for their condition.”

Payers utilize a variety of management tactics with AML therapies. “Payers often require prior authorization of these therapies due to safety, concern for off-label usage and cost,” says Tegenu. A variety of drugs are used off-label for certain patient populations, he notes.

Asked if AML is a condition suited for value-based contracting, Tegenu asserts that “all therapies associated with high cost should have some kind of value-based payment models to make drug manufacturers an integral part of the health care delivery system. We plan to initiate this discussion with all leading pharmaceutical companies.”

According to Winston Wong, Pharm.D., president of W-Squared Group., the newer drugs would be better candidates for such deals due to AML’s heterogenicity and the fact that “the treatment foundation is still conventional chemotherapy, which for the most part is available as a generic.”