Aug 1 Express Scripts Holding Co, the
largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on Friday said it will
not include anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, both sold by Amgen
Inc, on its 2015 list of preferred medications.
The company will, however, continue to include Procrit, a
similar drug sold by Johnson & Johnson, on its
Epogen, and second-generation drug Aranesp, have been hugely
profitable for Amgen, although their use has waned in recent
years due to safety concerns, including increased risk of heart
problems. Still, the two drugs generated U.S. sales of $2.7
billion last year.
Express Scripts said it knows that there are rare instances
when a specific patient has a unique circumstance where they may
require one of the excluded drugs, and it has a process for
physicians to pursue in those cases.
"Of the more than 4,000 drugs available to patients, only 66
will be excluded from our 2015 formulary," the company said. It
calculated that less than 0.2 percent of its members will be
affected by the changes.
Further details on the changes were not immediately
available. Officials at Amgen did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.
Express Scripts, which has nearly 25 million Americans on
its National Preferred Formulary, can drive enormous revenue
toward drugmakers whose products it selects. They will typically
be those that offer lower prices a for similar clinical benefit
and for which patients will be charged lower co-pays
The company has been a vocal critic of rising prescription
drug prices. For 2014, it excluded certain specialty drugs from
five therapeutic categories, including multiple sclerosis and
inflammatory diseases. It has also criticized the $84,000 cost
of Sovaldi, the hepatitis C treatment introduced in December by
Gilead Sciences Inc.
Pharmacy benefit managers administer prescription drug
benefits for employers and health plans and run large mail-order
(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)