Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Valeant Pharmaceuticals' Drug Costs Continue To Concern

Intelligent Solutions in Pharmacy Benefits
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In late June, PBIRx first identified the over 500% cost increase of Glumetza, which continued to quadruple overnight. For those of you who are not familiar with Glumetza, it is a drug used for the treatment of diabetes, with Glumetza being manufactured by Salix Pharmaceuticals (Salix was acquired by Valeant for $15.8B earlier this year). Upon learning about this cost increase, PBIRx developed an algorithm and identified any Glumetza utilizing member from our vast database of clients. Then, the PBIRx Clinical Staff researched evidence based alternative efficacious lower cost medication options, notified each client for approval to have their specific PBM facilitate communication with the Glumetza utilizer(s)’ prescribing doctor to provide information on the significant cost increase for Glumetza, along with the  lower cost alternatives. This very time sensitive action resulted in thousands of dollars in savings for PBIRx clients.

Valeant Drug Costs

However, it is important to note that the increase in Glumetza’s cost is not the only piece of news raising concerns about Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. Another drug, Cuprimine, which is used to treat several health conditions such as Wilson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, also saw a cost increase, making it much more difficult for patients to comfortably pay health care bills. But the patients are certainly not the only group of people raising an eyebrow at the recent spikes - lawmakers are too.

Just last month, the New York Times reported that “Valeant’s habit of buying up existing drugs and raising prices aggressively, rather than trying to develop new drugs, has also drawn the ire of lawmakers and helped stoke public outrage against the growing trend of higher and higher drug prices imposed by big drug companies.” In fact, this year alone, Valeant has raised their prices on brand-name drugs approximately 66%, making this one of the greatest increases seen when compared to other drug companies.

So what is being done about Valeant’s latest actions? More recent news from the New York Times explains that Valeant has been issued two federal summonses (one from Manhattan and one from Massachusetts) as a result of their pricing, distribution and patient support practices. Although this does not necessarily mean a charge or settlement will occur, it is worth it to note that action is being taken to try and investigate the situation further.

Philidor’s Connection

Along with the recent news about Valeant, we also feel it is important to briefly touch on Philidor Rx Services and their connection to this pharmaceutical company. Some sources suggest that Philidor was not acting honestly (for example, they changed prescriptions to get insurers to pay for drugs) and as a result, many large PBMs such as Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and OptumRx have removed Philidor Pharmacy from their network. Not to mention, Valeant has announced that they are terminating their relationship with Philidor as well. As a providing entity, if you have members that use Philidor, they must receive a new prescription from their doctor or work with Philidor to have their prescription transferred.

For all of the latest on this topic and other industry news, be sure to connect with us on all of our social media profiles. Then, for more information about how PBIRx can help you with your pharmacy benefits, please visit or call (888) 797-2479 today.

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