PHARMACY

AAM-commissioned report: Biosimilars can save CMS $11.4B by 2027

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — A new report from the Moran Co. for the Association for Accessible Medicines and its Biosimilars Council is projecting big savings to the federal government from biosimilars in the next 10 years. But the estimated $11.4 billion in savings would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the way it currently reimburses for biosimilar drugs.

Currently, CMS groups all biosimilars of a reference product under one billing code and payment rate. Such organizations as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, CVS Health, Express Scripts and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, among others, recently wrote to CMS administrator Seema Verma calling on a change to the policy earlier this month.

The introduction of biosimilars in the EU market has led to a substantial and immediate reduction in the average price for the biosimilar and originator products,” the letter said. “A sustainable and robust biosimilars market, such as the EU market, is built upon creating incentives for manufacturers to continue to develop lower cost alternatives to costly originator biologics, like expanded patient volume and access. Separate codes for non-interchangeable biosimilars help stimulate future competitors to the market.”

The Moran Co. report highlights that while the current policy would create short-term savings, they come at the expense of more savings in the long-term, potentially leading biosimilars manufacturers to exit the market over time or not enter it at all.

“Shifting biosimilar reimbursement to unique codes increases patient access to more affordable, life-saving medicine and lowers prescription drug spending,” Biosimilars Council executive director and AAM SVP policy and strategic alliances Christine Simmon said.  “This policy is critical to the development of a thriving biosimilars medicine market. This new report highlights the significant cost savings possible for both patients and payers if CMS implements this recommendation.”

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Walgreens pairs with actor Brandon Larracuente on ‘#ItEndsWithUs’ campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Walgreens on Wednesday launched its new campaign “#ItEndsWithUs” to educate teens nationwide on the opioid epidemic. The campaign will be unveiled by actor Brandon Larracuente from Netflix’s popular series “13 Reasons Why” and “Bloodline.”

“I have personally been affected by the opioid epidemic. My friend was only 19 when she died and it only took one wrong, risk-taking decision to cost her, her life,” Larracuente shared with more than 6,000 youth at the WE Day UN in New York. “I’m honored to work with Walgreens to raise awareness of the issue with my generation and let them know of the resources the company has made available to customers nationwide. This epidemic ends with our generation.”

The #ItEndsWithUs campaign provides teens with resources and positive steps they can take in their community, which are all available at the #ItEndsWithUs hub at www.walgreens.com/itendswithus. 

Once there, visitors are greeted with a message from Larracuente and a personal testimonial from Francesca Paparone, a young woman who overcame her addiction and is now working with Walgreens to raise awareness. Together, both Paparone and Larracuente will speak to Walgreens safe medication disposal program that began in 2016 in their messages.

The safe medication disposal kiosks allow individuals to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, year-round at no cost. The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies are available during regular pharmacy hours and offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else. Most people who misuse prescription drugs first obtain them from a family member or friend, often from a home medicine cabinet.

Kiosks are available in more than 600 pharmacies across 45 states and the District of Columbia. In its first year, the program has resulted in the collection and disposal of 72 tons of unwanted medication, or the equivalent weight of about 40 midsize cars.

The #ItEndsWithUs campaign launches at a time when the national opioid crisis has escalated into an epidemic of addiction and overdose. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths among 15-to-19-year-olds spiked more than 19% between 2014 and 2015. The CDC also found that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

 

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Fred’s works with MarkeTouch Media on revamped mobile app

BY David Salazar

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Pharmacy, in partnership with MarkeTouch Media, has released a redesigned and updated version of its mobile app. The app offers users a more streamlined experience and is aimed at improving patient adherence and the Fred’s shopping experience, the company said.

“Our new mobile app provides the kind of value-rich shopper-friendly program that our customers have come to expect from Fred’s,” Fred’s EVP and chief merchandising and marketing officer Mary Lou Gardner said

In addition to hundreds of digital coupon that can be redeemed at checkout, the app includes such pharmacy features as prescription refill and transfer, as well as prescription history. The company said it was designed to pair functionality with enhanced pharmacy features to make shopping more convenient.

“Fred’s has been an outstanding partner,” MarkeTouch Media VP sales Lyle Green said. “The addition of digital coupons and other features is MarkeTouch’s first venture into providing mobile functionality for the ‘front-of-store’ and another solution that MarkeTouch has successfully beta tested with fred’s.”

The app is free in the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

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