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Newer Specialty Drugs Require Payers to Revise Coverage Strategies

The groundbreaking approval of 3 CAR T cell therapies in 2017 has not only opened up the possibility of cures for patients, but also sent shockwaves through the payer community, which is responsible for a large chunk of the costs. The launch cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars plus spending on monitoring and hospitalization, it is clear that payers must revisit their traditional formulary approach.

2017 Launch Forecast for Specialty Drugs (source: Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy)

Biosimilars have also complicated formulary decisions. Payers must now compare the safety and efficacy of these products to reference drugs to determine how to meet patient needs, while also controlling costs.

In part 1 of a 2-part interview with Specialty Pharmacy Times, Steve Johnson, assistant vice president, Health Outcomes, Prime Therapeutics, discussed how newer specialty drugs have resulted in the need for new coverage strategies.

SPT: What are some important things for payers to know about CAR T cell therapies?
Johnson: First and foremost, these are obviously very complex therapies that we say are truly innovative, offering potential cures for very difficult diseases and conditions. These therapies aren’t limited to prescribed drugs, rather they often require hospitalizations.

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Tyrone Squires, MBA, CPBS

I am the proud founder and managing director of TransparentRx, a fiduciary-model PBM based in Las Vegas, Nevada. We help health plan sponsors reduce pharmacy spend, by as much as 50%, without cutting benefits or shifting costs to employees.

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