PHARMACY

CVS Caremark earns NCQA HIP certification in pharmacy benefits

BY Sandra Levy

CVS Health’s pharmacy benefit manager CVS Caremark has received NCQA Health Information Products Certification in pharmacy benefits, the company announced Wednesday. This helps affirm that CVS Caremark, through its caremark.com website and customer call center, provides members with the information they need to understand and use their pharmacy benefits, the company said.

NCQA’s HIP Certification is a quality assessment program that health plans can use to help evaluate healthcare organizations that develop and provide content, tools and services to plan members.

“As a leading pharmacy benefits manager, we are pleased to earn this certification from NCQA, which further validates our commitment to providing accessible and accurate pharmacy benefit information to the members we serve on behalf of our clients,” CVS Caremark president Derica Rice said. “This shows that we are providing high-quality information and customer service to members across our book of business, which can lead to better member engagement and health outcomes.”

CVS Caremark provides information to members about their pharmacy benefit by mail, digitally and telephonically. This can include information about a member’s prescriptions, drug coverage and plan design, such as in-network pharmacy locations and mail-order options.

HIP Certification is a voluntary review process in which NCQA evaluates the organization’s management of various aspects of its data collection and systems operation, and the process the company uses to continuously improve the services it provides. In addition, the HIP review includes rigorous evaluations conducted by a team of healthcare professionals. This includes a national oversight committee of physicians who analyze the team’s findings and determine certification based on the HIP organization’s compliance with NCQA standards.

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PHARMACY

FDA gives Merck the green light for two new HIV drugs

BY Sandra Levy

Merck has received the blessing from the Food and Drug Administration for two new HIV medicines, the company announced recently. Delstrigo is a once-daily fixed-dose combination tablet of doravirine (100 mg), lamivudine (300 mg) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (300 mg); and Pifeltro (doravirine, 100 mg) is a new non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor indicated to be administered in combination with other antiretroviral medicines.

Both drugs are indicated for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adult patients with no prior antiretroviral treatment experience, and are administered orally once daily with or without food.

Delstrigo contains a boxed warning regarding post-treatment acute exacerbation of hepatitis B infection. Delstrigo and Pifeltro do not cure HIV-1 infection or AIDS, the company said.

“As part of Merck’s 30-year commitment to the care of people with HIV, we are pleased to now bring forward these two new antiretroviral treatment options, Delstrigo and Pifeltro, which we believe offer a compelling clinical profile for clinicians and people living with HIV,” Merck Research Laboratories global clinical development vice president and therapeutic area head of infectious diseases, George Hanna said. “We are thankful to the researchers as well as those living with HIV and their communities for the collaboration that made today’s approval possible.”

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PHARMACY

Aurobindo to buy Sandoz dermatology, generic oral solids units

BY Sandra Levy

Novartis has agreed to sell selected portions of its Sandoz US portfolio, specifically the Sandoz US dermatology business and generic US oral solids portfolio, to Aurobindo Pharma USA in a $1 billion deal made up of $900 million in cash plus $100 million in potential earn-outs. Novartis said the sale is meant to support Sandoz’s strategy of focusing on complex generics, value-added medicines and biosimilars to drive growth.

The Sandoz US portfolios to be sold to Aurobindo include approximately 300 products, as well as additional development projects. The sale includes the Sandoz US generic and branded dermatology businesses as well as its dermatology development center. As part of the transaction, Aurobindo will acquire the manufacturing facilities in Wilson, NC, as well as Hicksville and Melville, NY. The business had net sales of $600 million in the first half of 2018.

“Sharpening our portfolio focus in the United States allows us to devote more time and resources toward our strategy of bringing complex generics, value-added medicines and biosimilars to patients in the US, creating higher value and opening up access to important medicines where alternatives are truly needed,” Sandoz CEO and member of the Novartis executive committee Richard Francis said. “Through this transaction, we are refocusing our business, but also striving to ensure continuity of supply of important long-used generic medicines for patients and customers in the United States.”

As part of the agreement, approximately 750 employees in Hicksville, Melville, Wilson and Princeton, N.J., as well as the field representatives for the PharmaDerm branded dermatology business, are expected to transfer to Aurobindo upon closing. “We recognize that the transfer of ownership for a business of this size is a complex process, and we are aware that it may create some uncertainties for our associates in the U.S. It is thus a priority for us to make the transition as clear and quick as possible,” Sandoz president and head of Sandoz North America Carol Lynch said.

Following the transaction, the Sandoz US portfolio will continue to be substantial, and will include biosimilars, value-added medicines and such complex generics as injectables, respiratory and ophthalmics, according to the company. Sandoz will continue to focus its clinical development, business development and investment efforts on these areas.

The transaction is expected to close in 2019.

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