CVS Health's drug-benefits unit will cover Amgen's new cholesterol-cutting injections while excluding a competing treatment from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, pushing for savings from medications that list for more than $14,000 a year.
The decision, which applies to workers whose employers use CVS Health for drug coverage, shows that benefit managers are continuing to be aggressive about setting exclusive deals with drugmakers to get better prices for expensive new therapies.
CVS said that its independent pharmacy and therapeutics committee had reviewed data for Amgen's Repatha, as well as Praluent from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and concluded that the drugs were clinically equivalent.
"That puts us in a situation where we can bargain with the drug manufacturers [and get a significant discount in return for an exclusive deal]," said Troyen Brennan, CVS's chief medical officer, in a phone interview. "You have to use every tool that you have to try to keep costs down today."
While the discount CVS obtained from Amgen was "substantial", Brennan said that he would not reveal the amount or the length of the contract with Amgen. CVS will continue to require that prescriptions for Amgen’s drug be approved in advance, a practice known as 'prior authorisation', which can limit use of the medicine.
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