CVS Pharmacy to Get Hepatitis C Drugs Only from Gilead

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The battle over prescription exclusivity of new hepatitis C drugs continued recently when CVS Caremark revealed a new agreement with drug maker Gilead Sciences to list only Harvoni and Sovaldi on its formularies.

The battle over prescription exclusivity of new hepatitis C drugs continued recently when CVS Caremark revealed a new agreement with drug maker Gilead Sciences to list only Harvoni and Sovaldi on its formularies.

The revelation comes within weeks after Express Scripts announced it had penned an exclusive agreement with drug maker AbbVie to carryViekira Pak, a hepatitis C drug regimen newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The CVS agreement was made after the prescription benefits company, which also runs a retail pharmacy chain, completed a thorough evaluation of available hepatitis C therapies, a CVS spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

“As a result of that evaluation, effective January 7, 2015, Harvoni and Solvaldi — manufactured by Gilead Sciences Inc. – will be exclusive on the CVS/caremark Standard Commercial, Exchange (Marketplace), Medicare Part D and Medicaid formularies,” stated the e-mail.

“Our goal was to create the lowest net-cost solution for the entire population of patients with all genotypes of Hepatitis C,” continued the e-mail. “When making this decision, we evaluated a wide variety of factors including duration of therapy, relative distribution of genotype and cost of the individual agents in the category as well as the results of a comprehensive clinical review of the different hepatitis C regimens.”

CVS did not reveal whether it had negotiated a discount with Gilead. However, the statement said the company strategy meets patient needs and delivers excellent value and clinical options to patients and plan members. As in the Express Scripts deal, exceptions for other hepatitis C drugs are reportedly allowed in some cases.

The newest hepatitis C treatment to be marketed by Gilead, which also sells Sovaldi, Harvoni is a two-drug combination pill that interferes with the enzymes that help the virus multiply. It reportedly costs roughly $10,000 more than the Sovaldi price tag of $84,000 for a 12-week treatment.

Both drugs are among a handful ofmedicines newly approved by the FDA that treat the hepatitis C virus in a shorter time frame and with fewer side effects than traditional treatment with interferon injections.

In a related matter, a CVS Dec. 18 press release about managing treatment costs notes an increase in the number of people being treated for the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus. An analysis by the CVS Health Research Institute compared utilization of Sovaldi and Harvoni in the weeks after each drug was launched.

The analysis shows that during the post launch period for each drug Harvoni was prescribed at more than twice the rate of Sovaldi, which saw minimum drop in use once Harvoni was introduced to the marketplace. This suggests an “expansion in the pool of patients being treated rather than Harvoni being used as a substitute for Sovaldi,” the statement said.

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