OptumRx Will Cover Humira Biosimilars Alongside Original Drug
The move will, Modern Healthcare says, permit members to continue using the brand name medicine or swap to a lower cost alternative. Bloomberg highlights that UnitedHealth's choice to keep both versions available is a partial win for the original drugmaker.
OptumRx To Cover Biosimilars For Humira
By placing biosimilars on the same formulary level as Humira, OptumRx will allow members to continue using the brand-name medicine or switch to a lower-cost alternative. OptumRx is the first PBM to reveal how it plans to deal with the high-cost, brand-name drug when competitors hit the market. AbbVie did not immediately respond to an interview request. (Tepper, 11/16)
UnitedHealth To Keep AbbVie’s Humira Drug Available As Biosimilar Sales Start
The decision disclosed by Heather Cianfrocco, chief executive of UnitedHealth’s Optum Rx unit, at the HLTH conference Tuesday in Las Vegas is at least a partial win for AbbVie. The company’s rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira has generated almost $200 billion in sales in nearly two decades on the market. (Tozzi, 11/15)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Vertex Made Cystic Fibrosis Manageable. Executives Say That’s Just The Start
Vertex Pharmaceuticals reshaped the way doctors treat cystic fibrosis, turning what was once a childhood death sentence into a manageable condition — and making the Boston biotech a multi-billion-dollar company in the process. Its next goal? Reproducing that success. (Wosen, 11/17)
As STDs Proliferate, Companies Rush To Market At-Home Test Kits. But Are They Reliable?
Online shoppers can already choose from more than a dozen self-testing kits, typically ranging in price from $69 to $500, depending on the brand and the variety of infections they can detect. But, except for HIV tests, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved STD test kits for use outside a medical setting. That leaves consumers unsure about their reliability even as at-home use grows dramatically. (Szabo, 11/17)
Thrive Founders Launch Blood Testing Startup To Spot Cancer's Return
Among the many anxiety-inducing issues faced by cancer patients is the question of whether the disease will return. The fathers of a new field of cancer diagnostics, known as liquid biopsies, have a test in the works that could give patients answers. (DeAngelis, 11/16)
For Eisai, Success Against Alzheimer's Has Been Long Time Coming
A once-in-a-generation medicine was built on more than two decades of regret. In 1997, Eisai launched Aricept, a revolutionary treatment for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, invented and developed by the company’s scientists in Japan. The arrival of the drug was a galvanizing moment for Eisai — a blockbuster product for a company on the rise and the first of what was expected to be a string of medicines to slow or even reverse the effects of the disease. Instead, a succession of promising ideas resulted in failure after failure. (Feuerstein, Mast and Garde, 11/17)
Lilly CEO Says Twitter Flap Over Insulin Costs Shows 'More Work To Do'
After a tweet from a fake corporate account last week claimed Eli Lilly would give insulin away for free, the drugmaker’s chief executive officer acknowledged the need to do a better job of widening access to the life-saving diabetes treatment and change perceptions of its existing efforts to do so. (Silverman, 11/16)