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Judy Packer Tursman

Senior Reporter, Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits

Recent Posts

Perspectives on Express Script's "Digital Health Formulary"

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jun 27, 2019

Cigna Corp.'s Express Script PBM expects to introduce the industry's first stand-alone "digital health formulary" in 2020, the company said May 16. It intends to use a uniform review process to ensure the safety and quality of apps and devices on the market for diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions and behavioral health, AIS Health reported.

By creating a digital formulary, Express Scripts "is using old hat methods to manage these new digital health solutions much like they do on brand and generic drugs or other therapies via utilization management," says Nathan Ray, senior principal in business consulting firm West Monroe Partners’ health care and life sciences practice.
 
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Topics: Industry Trends, Provider, Payer

Radar On Market Access: Troy Medicare Aims to Launch Pharmacist-Centered Model in NC

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jun 25, 2019

Troy Medicare, a small Medicare Advantage plan start-up, aims to shake up the North Carolina MA marketplace during the coming fall open enrollment by offering a pharmacist-centered delivery model that will pay local, independent pharmacists directly for enhanced care management services to seniors.

"We will go live on Jan. 1, 2020," in a five-county, "semi-rural" service area around Charlotte, N.C., Troy CEO Flaviu Simihaian tells AIS Health.
 
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Topics: Industry Trends, Market Access, Provider, Payer

Radar On Market Access: Magellan Rx Initiates Oncology Biosimilars Program

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jun 20, 2019

Magellan Rx Management, the PBM division of Magellan Health, Inc., on June 4 announced its launch of an oncology biosimilars program, preparing its health plan customers for the expected market entry of biosimilars for three cancer-fighting drugs — Herceptin, Rituxan and Avastin — later this year, AIS Health reported.

"Oncology is by far the largest therapeutic area for drug spend on the medical benefit, and it is even higher in Medicare," Steve Cutts, senior vice president and general manager for Magellan Rx's specialty drug unit, tells AIS Health. Thus, he says, the PBM will be focusing the oncology biosimilars program "on all lines of business for our clients."
 
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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Market Access

Radar On Market Access: Payers Are Wary as First NASH Drugs May Hit U.S. Market Soon

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jun 18, 2019

Doctors trying to treat patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) — a serious type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that, if left untreated, may progress to cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, cancer and possibly the need for a liver transplant — soon may have new options in their arsenal beyond promoting exercise and diet. The first-ever NASH drugs are expected to hit the U.S. market as early as 2020 to help address this increasingly prevalent, complex disease spawned largely by the obesity epidemic and surge of type 2 diabetes in the U.S., AIS Health reported.

Dieterich says the entry of first-ever NASH medications will "definitely" offer significant benefit to patients. "There's no question [the drugs will help] — in combination with diet and exercise," says Douglas Dieterich, M.D., director of the Institute for Liver Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System. "It will have to be the whole package."
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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Market Access, Product Release, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on CMS's Drug Pricing Proposals

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jun 13, 2019

When CMS issued the final rule on Medicare Advantage and Part D drug pricing on May 16, the agency touted its policy changes as ensuring consumers get greater transparency into the cost of Part D prescription drugs and enabling MA plans to negotiate better prices for physician-administered medicines in Part C. Yet, after receiving 4,000-plus comments related to pharmacy price concessions on negotiated price, CMS held back, saying it won't implement this policy for 2020 — or follow through on proposed exceptions to Part D protected drug classes, AIS Health reported.

Among numerous provisions, CMS's final rule implements the statutory prohibition against gag clauses in pharmacy contracts, barring Part D plans from penalizing pharmacies that disclose a lower cash price to enrollees. But the agency decided against implementing a policy redefining negotiated price as the lowest possible, baseline payment to pharmacies.
 
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Topics: Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on Diabetic Drug’s Kidney Benefit

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on May 30, 2019

The potential use of Invokana (canagliflozin) for chronic kidney disease as well as type 2 diabetes, its current indicated use, recently attracted national headlines. If Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s supplemental indication for its medication is approved by the FDA, "it would be the first new treatment for diabetic kidney disease in decades," the National Kidney Foundation said.

The kidney foundation points out that diabetes is a key risk factor for chronic kidney disease. The group says it anticipates strong uptake of Invokana by clinicians and payers facing "high costs and management challenges" in treating advanced kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes, AIS Health reported.
 
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Topics: Product Release, Provider, Payer

Radar On Market Access: Express Scripts Takes on Industry's Digital Transformation

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on May 30, 2019

Cigna Corp.'s Express Script PBM expects to introduce the industry's first stand-alone "digital health formulary" in 2020, the company said May 16. It intends to use a uniform review process to ensure the safety and quality of apps and devices on the market for diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions and behavioral health, AIS Health reported.

By creating a digital formulary, Express Scripts "is using old hat methods to manage these new digital health solutions much like they do on brand and generic drugs or other therapies via utilization management," says Nathan Ray, senior principal in business consulting firm West Monroe Partners’ health care and life sciences practice.
 
Read More

Topics: Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Radar On Market Access: CMS 'Meaningfully Walks Back' on Key Drug Pricing Proposals

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on May 28, 2019

When CMS issued the final rule on Medicare Advantage and Part D drug pricing on May 16, the agency touted its policy changes as ensuring consumers get greater transparency into the cost of Part D prescription drugs and enabling MA plans to negotiate better prices for physician-administered medicines in Part C. Yet, after receiving 4,000-plus comments related to pharmacy price concessions on negotiated price, CMS held back, saying it won't implement this policy for 2020 — or follow through on proposed exceptions to Part D protected drug classes, AIS Health reported.

Among numerous provisions, CMS’s final rule implements the statutory prohibition against gag clauses in pharmacy contracts, barring Part D plans from penalizing pharmacies that disclose a lower cash price to enrollees. But the agency decided against implementing a policy redefining negotiated price as the lowest possible, baseline payment to pharmacies.
 
Read More

Topics: Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on New Postpartum Depression Drug

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on May 2, 2019

The FDA's recent approval of the first medication specifically aimed at treating postpartum depression is drawing a favorable response from clinicians, while payers could face challenges.

PBM executives tell AIS Health that the postpartum depression drug, Zulresso (brexanolone) injection, is likely to be covered under the medical, not the pharmacy, side of the benefit.
 
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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Product Release, Provider, Payer

Radar On Market Access: Calif. Insurers Fear lll Effects if Medicaid Pharmacy Is Carved Out

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on May 2, 2019

California is quietly plowing ahead on plans by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to create a statewide bulk purchasing system for prescription drugs — and to transition pharmacy services for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, from managed care to fee-for-service (FFS) by January 2021, AIS Health reported.

In the latest development related to the initiatives, Los Angeles County tentatively has agreed "to sit at the same bargaining table" with Newsom’s administration to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, the Los Angeles Times reported April 17.
 
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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Provider, Payer