Express Scripts Inc. Turns to AbbVie In Huge Hepatitis C Deal; Shuns Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Published: Dec 24, 2014
December 22, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager in the country, announced today that it has reached an agreement with AbbVie Inc. on its hepatitis C treatment. The company has also announced that it will no longer cover treatments from Gilead Sciences , the biopharmaceutical giant responsible for creating Sovaldi.
Gilead Sciences had asked Express Scripts $84,000 for Sovaldi, its hepatitis C treatment. The pill, which totaled to be around $1,000, was scrutinized for its price when it was approved last year. Express Scripts has not said how much it will pay for AbbVie’s drug. However, it will only sell through the mail via Accredo.
Beginning on Jan. 1, Express Scripts will start paying for the drug for patients who have genotype 1. At this time, it will also no longer cover Harvoni, a similar pill for patients with genotype 1 that costs up to $94,500 for a 12-week course of treatment.
Approval of VIEKIRA PAK
On Dec. 19, AbbVie announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved of its all-oral, interferon-free treatment for chronic genotype 1 hepatitis C virus, Viekira Pak. It is the only FDA approved regimen that contains an NS5A inhibitor, NS3/4A protease inhibitor and a non-nucleoside NS5B polymerase inhibitor. These component work together to attack the virus at three separate stages.
"We are proud of the work of our research and development organization to bring this important therapy, offering high cure rates, to patients with hepatitis C,” said Richard Gonzalez, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of AbbVie. “We believe appropriate patients, regardless of their fibrosis stage, should have broad market access to Viekira Pak, and we are committed to supporting access to this therapy. This is the first of several potential new therapies that we are advancing to treat a multitude of serious disease states, and we anticipate bringing them to market in the coming years."
Viekira Pakwas approved based on the results of a phase 2 clinical trial that showed it could cure the disease in 97 percent of liver transplant patients and 92 percent of patients who have HCV/HIV-1.
"AbbVie's clinical trial program includes landmark, placebo-controlled studies evaluating a wide variety of patients with hepatitis C," said Fred Poordad, investigator for several Viekira Pak trials. "The studies have shown that treatment with Viekira Pak resulted in high cure rates, even in patients who have historically been challenging to treat, such as patients with cirrhosis, patients who have had liver transplants and patients co-infected with HIV."