Life Science Compliance Update

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March 20, 2018

Prime Therapeutics Proves PBMs’ Value

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On February 20, 2018, Prime Therapeutics issued a press release that highlighted the way it – as a leading pharmacy benefit manager – has helped save its clients billions of dollars. The 2017 drug trend reports noted that its clients saw overall expenditure reductions (per member, per month) across all three lines of business (commercial, Medicare, Medicaid) as compared to 2016. Additionally, corresponding annual savings delivered to clients in 2017 exceeded $3 billion across all three lines of business.

“Our outstanding 2017 drug trend results are hard won, especially as we continue to see ongoing and significant price increases for medicines in some of the most expensive disease categories,” said Jim DuCharme, Prime’s president and CEO. “These outcomes require many dedicated employees working tirelessly on behalf of our clients and their members to deliver optimal care and prescription drugs at the lowest net cost. Our close alignment with 22 Blue plan clients – 18 of whom are owners – allows us to see the complete pharmacy and medical drug picture to help us drive total cost of care outcomes.”

While specialty medicines continue to exert upward pressure across commercial and Medicare part D clients, Prime was able to offset those spending pressures by delivering substantial savings in other areas, including:

  • Negotiated discounts – In 2017, Prime secured substantial discounts including competitive rebates and more than $1 billion from pharmacy MAC pricing, illustrating the important role generics play in controlling drug costs. Client adoption of Walgreens-anchored networks also exerted downward pressure on trend. Incremental negotiated savings exceeded $1.9 billion.
  • Utilization management – Prime’s efforts to promote appropriate use of medicines approached $2.3 billion in total savings across all three lines of business.
  • Pain medication management – Prime is particularly proud of our efforts in managing controlled substances such as opioids. Not only has Prime decreased pain medicine expenditures across all three lines of business (-14.6 percent in commercial, -12.2 percent in Medicare and -9.8 percent in Medicaid), but these results build on Prime’s controlled substance successes over the past five years. These successes include decreasing by 71 percent the number of commercial members who were at high-risk for misuse* and reducing their health care costs by $1,500 PMPY.  

“While we’re thrilled drug expenditures for our clients declined in 2017, this doesn’t mean drug costs no longer present a challenge,” said David Lassen, chief clinical officer at Prime. “Low trend is not synonymous with low cost. Prescription drugs still represent 20 to 30 percent of costs for our health plans and employers. And out of the 46 drugs the FDA approved in 2017, eight of them drove commercial trend by about 1 percent, at an average price tag of $96,000 annually.”

“PBMs play a crucial role in counterbalancing upward forces in drug spending,” DuCharme concluded. “Without our active and assertive efforts to help drive clinically appropriate use and lowest net cost, spending on prescription drugs would be much higher. We’re proud to stand alongside our clients in this important work, helping people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well.”

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