ST. LOUIS, Dec. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Offering an unprecedented solution to an unprecedented healthcare challenge, Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX) today announced an update to its National Preferred Formulary that will significantly expand access to AbbVie's (NYSE: ABBV) new medication, Viekira Pak®, a breakthrough treatment for hepatitis C.
Viekira Pak, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 19, was determined to be at least clinically equivalent to Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir) and Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) by Express Scripts' independent Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee. As a result of the committee's determination, Viekira Pak will immediately be added to the Express Scripts formulary, and will be the exclusive option for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C, regardless of symptoms or disease progression, starting January 1, 2015.
Approximately 75 percent of the more than 3 million Americans with hepatitis C have a form of the virus known as genotype 1. All clinically appropriate patients with that form of hepatitis C who are covered by the Express Scripts National Preferred Formulary – which covers about 25 million Americans – will have access to Viekira Pak.
Beginning January 1, 2015, Sovaldi, Harvoni and Olysio® (simeprevir) will be excluded from the National Preferred Formulary. Sovaldi, Harvoni and Olysio will continue to be available for patients who have already begun treatment regimens. Sovaldi will be available for patients with other hepatitis C genotypes who have advanced liver disease.
"Express Scripts and AbbVie have a single focus: do what's right for hepatitis C patients," said Steve Miller, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer of Express Scripts. "For the first time, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and a pharmacy benefit manager have created an agreement to deliver on the promise of a curative therapy for hepatitis C patients. Pharmaceutical innovation must be rewarded based on the value it brings to patients and payers. This agreement marks a fundamental change in how sustainable access and affordability will be delivered to hepatitis C patients."
"If the specialty drug trend continues to increase by double digit percentages, payers will be forced to implement even more narrow management tools, thus limiting the number of patients who can afford to receive the drug therapy," said Paula Jakub, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President, American Foreign Service Protective Association, which is an Express Scripts client. "It only makes sense for manufacturers to work with payers on pricing decisions. We are delighted to be a partner in this relationship to explore new approaches for the right person to receive the right drug at the right time."
Unlike pricier hepatitis C medications that many U.S. payers were covering only for patients experiencing stage 3 or 4 liver disease, Viekira Pak will be available for all clinically appropriate plan members covered by the Express Scripts National Preferred Formulary.
As part of Express Scripts' Hepatitis Cure Value (HCV) Program, Viekira Pak will be dispensed through the Accredo® Specialty Pharmacy, which delivers superior treatment outcomes, better adherence, and cost effectiveness compared to other specialty pharmacies. Accredo's Hepatitis Therapeutic Resource Center® offers a team of specialist pharmacists and health professionals whose patient support model drives the industry's highest level of successful therapy completion, a vital part of the care continuum that delivers better outcomes to patients and financial relief to payers.
"We want all hepatitis C patients to receive the best care our healthcare system can deliver, but that option simply wasn't possible until today," said Dr. Miller. "Our formulary approach makes specialty medications more affordable, and Accredo's unique clinical model will enable as many patients as possible to be cured of hepatitis C."
About Express Scripts
Express Scripts manages more than a billion prescriptions each year for tens of millions of patients. On behalf of our clients — employers, health plans, unions and government health programs — we make the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable. Express Scripts uniquely combines three capabilities — behavioral sciences, clinical specialization and actionable data — to create Health Decision ScienceSM, our innovative approach to help individuals make the best drug choices, pharmacy choices and health choices. Better decisions mean healthier outcomes.
Headquartered in St. Louis, Express Scripts provides integrated pharmacy-benefit management services, including network-pharmacy claims processing, home delivery, specialty benefit management, benefit-design consultation, drug utilization review, formulary management, and medical and drug data analysis services. The company also distributes a full range of biopharmaceutical products and provides extensive cost-management and patient-care services.