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CVS urges cost controls for new cholesterol, specialty drugs

CVS Health Corp., weighing in on the costs of a new class of cholesterol treatments and other specialty drugs in development, said they could surpass those of expensive new medicines currently on the market, according to a news release.

Evidence from clinical trials suggests the new drugs, injected once or twice a month, are well-tolerated and highly effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein and may first be indicated for familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic form of high cholesterol affecting approximately 620,000 Americans. Eventually, however, as many as 15 million Americans — including patients who are intolerant to statins, those who have more severe cases where statins are not effective, and those with a history of coronary artery disease — could be considered candidates for this new class of drugs once approved, according to the release. CVS noted that new injectable cholesterol fighters, called PCSK9 inhibitors, could be approved by mid-2015 and will likely each cost $7,000 to $12,000 a year.

“High cholesterol is one of the most prevalent conditions in the developed world and with primary prevention of high cholesterol as the eventual target for manufacturers, PCSK9 inhibitors will likely be the highest selling class of medications in history,” said William Shrank, MD, chief scientific officer, CVS Health, and co-author of a Health Affairs blog post on the topic. “With a robust pipeline of expensive specialty drugs this is just the beginning, and the resilience and ability of our health care system to absorb such high costs will be tested if rigid cost control mechanisms are not put in place.”

PCSK9 inhibitors could eventually cost the healthcare system as much as $150 billion a year and become the highest-selling class of drugs in history, according to the blog’s authors. In addition, PCSK9 inhibitors are biologics, so there will not be a simple pathway to cheaper generics for at least a decade.

“Healthcare reform is intended to lower costs, but they are still rising, albeit less steeply than in the past. Moderation is not however the case in the area of specialty pharmacy,” the authors said.

To read the blog, visit http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2015/02/17/in-the-debate-about-cost-and-efficacy-pcsk9-inhibitors-may-be-the-biggest-challenge-yet.

By | 2015-02-18T00:00:00-05:00 February 18th, 2015|Categories: National|0 Comments

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