Trends That Matter

Trends That Matter for COPD Medications

June 20, 2019

A new generic alternative for GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair Diskus (fluticasone/salmeterol) provides payers with the chance to better manage care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition in which high out-of-pocket costs often lead to lower compliance and an increased risk of hospitalization, AIS Health reported.

A new generic alternative for GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair Diskus (fluticasone/salmeterol) provides payers with the chance to better manage care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition in which high out-of-pocket costs often lead to lower compliance and an increased risk of hospitalization, AIS Health reported.

Advair Diskus, a combination long-acting beta-agonist and an inhaled corticosteroid, has been one of the most common drugs used for COPD, a condition largely dominated by brand products. The generic, marketed by Mylan and approved Jan. 30, joins generics for two additional COPD devices: a generic for Ventolin HFA (albuterol) and one for Proair HFA (albuterol).

All three have the potential to save payers and patients significant money. Charline Shan, R.Ph., vice president, access experience team at payer insights and strategy firm Precision for Value, says plans have multiple options for structuring their formularies with the amount of generic options available.

Generics are typically included, with brand drugs placed on preferred or nonpreferred tiers based on price, “but not all are required or have to be on the formulary since there are many branded and therapeutic equivalent options,” she says.

Below is the current market access to COPD medications under the pharmacy benefit:

Trends That Matter for Use of Biologics

June 6, 2019

Almost 5.8 billion prescriptions were dispensed in the United States in 2018, an increase of 2.7% over the previous year, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science’s report Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2018 and Outlook to 2023, AIS Health reported.

Almost 5.8 billion prescriptions were dispensed in the United States in 2018, an increase of 2.7% over the previous year, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science’s report Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2018 and Outlook to 2023, AIS Health reported.

Retail and mail pharmacies dispensed 127 million specialty prescriptions last year, an increase of 15 million since 2014. In 2018, for the second year in a row, specialty prescription volume grew more than 5% although the medicines accounted for only 2.2% of prescriptions overall. With an increase in the availability of oral and self-injected specialty therapies, these drugs “are increasingly dispensed through retail pharmacies,” said Murray Aitken, executive director of the institute, during a May 6 press call.

The use of biosimilars — which the institute defines on a broader basis than only those therapies approved through the 351(k) pathway — “in terms of volume is still modest,” said Aitken, with these therapies representing less than 2% of the total biologics market in 2018. But in those areas where a biosimilar is available, “there is reasonably rapid uptake.”

Trends That Matter for Infliximab Biosimilars

May 23, 2019

Magellan Rx Management saw a significant shift in utilization from Janssen Biotech, Inc.’s Remicade (infliximab) to biosimilars after it implemented a comprehensive utilization management (UM) program, resulting in 34% drug cost savings, the PBM reported.

Magellan Rx Management saw a significant shift in utilization from Janssen Biotech, Inc.’s Remicade (infliximab) to biosimilars after it implemented a comprehensive utilization management (UM) program, resulting in 34% drug cost savings, the PBM reported.

The program, which began in late 2017, involves any patient prescribed an infliximab product for any indication, and is available to all payer clients as an opt-in option, Steve Cutts, senior vice president and general manager, tells AIS Health.

When Magellan Rx began the infliximab program in the fourth quarter of 2017, 100% of the PBM’s patients receiving an infliximab product received Remicade and none took biosimilars, the PBM said. In the third quarter of 2018, the last quarter for which Magellan has data, 86% of patients got the biosimilar and 14% took the brand-name drug.

The FDA approved the first infliximab biosimilar, Pfizer, Inc.’s Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb), in April 2016. The agency now lists three approved infliximab biosimilars: Inflectra; Merck & Co., Inc.’s Renflexis (infliximab-abda); and Pfizer’s Ixifi (infliximab-qbtx). Pfizer is not launching Ixifi in the U.S. since it already has Inflectra on the market, so only Inflectra and Renflexis are being sold in the U.S.

Below is the current market access to Remicade, Inflectra and Renflexis under the pharmacy benefit:

Trends That Matter for Colorectal Cancer Medications

May 9, 2019

As innovations in digital capabilities continue to be used with various health care products, Proteus Digital Health, Inc. is developing a suite of what it terms digital medicines. And while the company has been working on such products for a few years, it recently came out with the first such product within the oncology space, AIS Health reported.

As innovations in digital capabilities continue to be used with various health care products, Proteus Digital Health, Inc. is developing a suite of what it terms digital medicines. And while the company has been working on such products for a few years, it recently came out with the first such product within the oncology space, AIS Health reported.

Proteus is partnering with Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota Health to offer oral capecitabine combined with an ingestible sensor to treat stage 3 and stage 4 colorectal cancer patients.

David Purdie, vice president of medical affairs at Proteus, explains that through an open capsulation process, a pharmacist will place a capecitabine pill and a sensor within a capsule and then seal it. The capsule dissolves within a person’s stomach within a minute or so after it’s ingested. “Each sensor has a unique identifier,” and after the capsule dissolves, an app on a mobile device transmits data such as the time of the dose, the medication taken, the dosage of the drug and certain patient reactions to the drug to the cloud, where the information matches up with a database. “Every pill is uniquely identified,” so if someone takes 30 different pills at one time, the database will be able to know exactly what each medication is.

Below is the current market access to colorectal cancer medications under the pharmacy benefit:

Trends That Matter for Insulin

April 25, 2019

Amid increasing public scrutiny of rising insulin prices, some health insurers are taking matters into their own hands to help their diabetic members afford the lifesaving medications, AIS Health reported.

Amid increasing public scrutiny of rising insulin prices, some health insurers are taking matters into their own hands to help their diabetic members afford the lifesaving medications, AIS Health reported.

Leading PBMs, such as CVS Health Corp., Express Scripts and Prime Therapeutics, also applied formulary strategies to keep insulin affordable. CVS Health reported a -1.7% trend for antidiabetic drugs in 2018, despite increasing utilization and 5.6% average wholesale price inflation for brand drugs, according to its 2018 drug trend report.

By removing Lantus and Toujeo from the formulary and making Basaglar preferred, CVS reported its clients saw a 21.7% reduction in cost per long-acting insulin prescription, which translated to a lower overall cost of $0.34 per member per month.

At the integrated health system HealthPartners, the members who are hardest hit by rising insulin prices are those in high-deductible health plans, says Young Fried, vice president of pharmacy plan services. But she says insulin affordability is also an issue for Medicare members who are in the Part D “doughnut hole.”

One tactic that the organization’s health plan deploys to ease the burden on members is a policy called “plan pay the difference,” Fried says. If a brand drug becomes cheaper than the generic version after rebates, “we would actually have the member pay the generic copay instead of the brand, and then we would reimburse the pharmacy the brand cost, so that they’re made whole as well,” she says.

Trends That Matter for Cancer Care

April 11, 2019

With more targeted and effective therapies launching to treat a variety of cancers, much of the focus has been not only on their efficacy but their costs, particularly to payers. A recent report from the physician perspective highlights their impact as far as cost on not only those stakeholders but also the patients they serve, AIS Health reported.

With more targeted and effective therapies launching to treat a variety of cancers, much of the focus has been not only on their efficacy but their costs, particularly to payers. A recent report from the physician perspective highlights their impact as far as cost on not only those stakeholders but also the patients they serve, AIS Health reported.

The Association of Community Cancer Centers released its 2018 Trending Now in Cancer Care Survey in February. Responding to the survey were 205 individuals from community cancer centers, academic centers, teaching hospitals and independent practices.

Leading the top threats to future growth were payer reimbursement requirements and “cost of drugs and/or new treatment modalities,” both at 48% among those categories ranked among the top five threats. Those were followed by “uncertainties in drug pricing reform policies,” at 40%.

When it came to patients, 49% of respondents said they had had a patient refuse treatment due to financial concerns over the past year, with 32% responding that they were not sure if that had occurred. In addition, 79% of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about patients refusing care due to financial worries.