Search Our Site

Express Scripts shuts out Gilead

Express Scripts shuts out Gilead in deal with AbbVie for hepatitis drug

Originally posted by Angela Mueller with the St. Louis Business Journal

Express Scripts is making AbbVie’s new medication the exclusive hepatitis C treatment in its formulary, ending coverage of treatments from Gilead Sciences Inc.

The pharmacy benefits manager announced early Monday that is is adding AbbVie’s Viekira Pak to its formulary as its exclusive option for patients with genotpye 1 hepatitis C as of Jan. 1. Also as of Jan. 1, the hepatitis treatments Sovaldi, Harvoni and Olysio will be excluded from the formulary, although the drugs will continue to be available for patients who have already started treatment regimens.

Express Scripts had been in a price war with Gilead Sciences Inc. in an effort to force the drug maker to cut the $84,000 price of its new hepatitis C pill. Earlier this year, Express Scripts reportedly was planning to ask its clients — which include large national employers, insurance plans and government agencies — to join a coalition that would cease to use Gilead’s Sovaldi medication once a rival medication is approved for use in the U.S.

Viekira Pak was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday. Express Scripts has negotiated for a discount from AbbVie on its $83,319 whole price for the drug, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“This agreement marks a fundamental change in how sustainable access and affordability will be delivered to hepatitis C patients,” Dr. Steve Miller, chief medical officer of Express Scripts, said in a statement.

The move will help AbbVie take market share from Gilead Sciences but could be controversial because it limits patients’ treatment choices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“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,” Paula Jakub, CEO of the American Foreign Service Protective Association, which is an Express Scripts client, said in a statement. “It only makes sense for manufacturers to work with payers on pricing decisions.”