* Advair restored to Express Scripts 2015 formulary list
* Move may boost use but prices still seen under pressure
* GSK diabetes drug Tanzeum not included in Express list
* GSK shares up 1.2 percent
(Adds further comment from Express Scripts on Advair move)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Aug 4 GlaxoSmithKline received a
boost on Monday from a decision by Express Scripts, the
largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, to reinstate its
top-selling lung drug Advair as an approved drug in 2015.
The British company's business has suffered since January
after the inhaled medicine Advair was dropped from various
formulary lists - including that of Express Scripts - while it
fights growing price competition from rival products.
Drugs excluded from such lists have to be paid for out of
patients' pockets, hitting their use. Pharmacy benefit managers
administer prescription drug benefits for employers and health
Express Scripts said the decision followed GlaxoSmithKline's
(GSK) willingness to offer the 15-year-old respiratory drug at a
highly competitive price.
"We have changed the formulary status of Advair in 2015 due
to the improved pricing we were able to negotiate for our
clients," said spokesman David Whitrap.
Disappointing U.S. sales of Advair were largely to blame for
GSK's worse-than-expected second-quarter results, which prompted
the company to cut its 2014 earnings outlook last month.
Advair makes up nearly a fifth of GSK's sales but demand is
eroding both in Europe, where it faces competition from copycat
versions, and in the United States, due to lack of formulary
cover and keen competition from AstraZeneca's Symbicort.
U.S. sales of Advair, which is used to treat asthma and
chronic lung disease, tumbled 19 percent in the second quarter
in constant currency terms.
Even after the Express Scripts change, however, Advair will
still be at a disadvantage, according to Credit Suisse analysts,
since it is not listed as a preferred treatment, unlike
Symbicort and Merck & Co's Dulera.
The analysts believe Advair prices are likely to remain
under heavy pressure as GSK strives to secure market share.
The decision to move Advair from "excluded" to
"non-preferred" means that while GSK's drug will be covered,
patients will face a higher co-payment when filling Advair
prescriptions than for preferred brands in the same therapy
Furthermore, GSK's new lung drug Breo remains excluded from
the Express Scripts formulary, along with its new injectable
diabetes drug Tanzeum, which belongs to the same so-called GLP-1
class as Novo Nordisk's Victoza.
Victoza was already excluded from the list but GSK has been
hoping to win business for its rival medicine by pricing Tanzeum
at a discount to Victoza.
GSK shares were 1.2 percent higher by 1445 GMT.
Express Scripts also said late on Friday it would drop two
key anaemia drugs, Epogen and Aranesp, sold by Amgen.
(Editing by David Holmes and Sophie Walker)