CVS Health
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CVS Health’s Merlo touts Aetna integration, opening of concept store

BY Sandra Levy

Six weeks after CVS closed its merger with health insurer Aetna, CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo outlined several initiatives to improve patient care that are already underway.

Speaking to investors at the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference today, Merlo said this quarter CVS Health is launching a specialized program to help support Aetna members being treated for cardiovascular disease to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions.

CVS Health also is piloting a program this month enabling Aetna managers to facilitate the scheduling of MinuteClinic follow-up visits within 14 days post discharge when patients are unable to see their provider.

“We are also piloting a program that leverages CVS pharmacists to provide face-to-face interactions and educate Aetna members on the available care management programs, as well provide patient-specific strategies to migrate the risk of nonadherence, side effects or gaps in care,” Merlo said.

Merlo also said, “While it’s only been six weeks, we are absolutely off and running. We are opening a series of health care concept stores, which will be a testing ground for a new retail engagement model that brings healthcare services to consumers in a more convenient and accessible and consumer-focused manner. As we pilot the new program and service offerings, we will identify the solutions that are most effective and scalable, and roll them more broadly across our footprint.”

Next month, CVS Health also is opening its first concept store in Houston. Among some of the services that will be tested are new health-and-wellness categories in the front of the store; an expanded suite of healthcare services that include concierge and health-and-wellness support; such new clinical services as advanced screenings for chronic disease and phlebotomy in MinuteClinics; and enhanced personalized prescription services in the pharmacy.

“We’ll use our data and analytic capabilities to provide actionable information to our pharmacy staff in an effort to improve patient care,” Merlo said.

Merlo also said that another example of its patient concentric approach will focus on providing the necessary support and coordination that patients need in order to achieve their best health outcome on their patient journey.

“We will provide support to the patient to address many of the challenges they face. It could be arranging transportation to and from the procedure, supply of durable medical equipment to the patients’ home before the operation, conducting pre-op blood work, or providing post-op support that includes medication reconciliation and delivery,” he said.

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Cardinal Health acquires Mirixa

BY Sandra Levy

Cardinal Health has acquired Mirixa, a leading provider of technology-enabled solutions for the provision of medication therapy management, from the National Community Pharmacists Association.

The business will integrate into OutcomesMTM at Cardinal Health.

This expanded portfolio from Cardinal Health will bring payers an enhanced pharmacy services network and will standardize care delivery, documentation and billing for MTM services, according to Cardinal Health.

“For many years, OutcomesMTM and Mirixa have shared a common vision to increase healthcare quality and decrease cost through the appropriate use of medication,” Tom Halterman, Cardinal Health’s vice president of medication therapy management solutions and founder of OutcomesMTM, said. “We are excited about this opportunity to unite these two companies and continue to advance this shared vision under the Cardinal Health umbrella.”

Merging the technology platforms deployed by Mirixa and OutcomesMTM is an important priority of the transaction, the companies said. In addition, this combination simplifies the workflow for pharmacy staffs in retail, clinic and long-term care settings, allowing them to more effectively deliver services to patients.

“When the integration is complete, pharmacists will no longer need to sign in to multiple portals to navigate their MTM opportunities,” Halterman said. “A single, standardized platform will enable any health plan to connect their members with over 100,000 U.S. pharmacists.”

Through the platform, such clinical services as comprehensive medication reviews, medication adherence consultations and other important interventions can be deployed.

“The original objective of Mirixa was to empower and enable independent community pharmacists, which is a vision this integration with OutcomesMTM and Cardinal Health seeks to continue,” NCPA CEO Doug Hoey said.

“In addition to benefiting pharmacists, who can work more closely with patients and be reimbursed for high-touch care, MTM services also result in increased adherence to medications. That increased adherence saves money for health plans, employers and taxpayers in the form of reduced healthcare costs overall,” Hoey said.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Amgen cuts prices for Repatha devices

BY Sandra Levy

Amgen announced today that all Repatha (evolocumab) device options, including the prefilled syringe and Pushtronex — on-body infusor with prefilled cartridge — are now available at a 60% reduced list price of $5,850 per year.

The most commonly used delivery system, the Repatha SureClick autoinjector, was made available at the lower list price of $5,850 in October 2018. The lower priced Repatha options are identical to the Repatha options currently available, but have been introduced to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients, especially Medicare patients, the company said.

“Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a heart attack or stroke, making cardiovascular disease one of the country’s most significant health challenges,” Murdo Gordon, Amgen’s executive vice president of global commercial operations, said. “Repatha can help to address this significant public health issue, which is why we are working hard to improve patient affordability by lowering Repatha’s list price to improve patient co-pays, especially for Medicare patients.”

Eighty percent of current Repatha Medicare patients have access to Repatha at the new lower list price through their plans. Additionally, more patients now can fill a Repatha prescription at a retail pharmacy because a number of large payers are reclassifying Repatha as a non-specialty therapy.

“The lower list price announced in October has been received very positively by patients, physicians and payers, and we are already seeing a noticeable impact for patients,” Gordon said. “However, more must be done to help more patients get to a low fixed co-pay. We need continued engagement from all stakeholders — from healthcare professionals to payers to plans and to government agencies — to help ensure patients benefit from the lower list price to reduce their out-of-pocket costs.”

The Pushtronex system is a hands-free device that provides 420 mg of Repatha once monthly in a single dose. The device adheres to the body during administration. Patients are able to perform moderate physical activities, such as walking, reaching or bending as the 420 mg of Repatha is delivered subcutaneously. The prefilled syringe and SureClick are administered once every two weeks.

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