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UPDATE 3-Express Scripts drops Gilead hep C drugs for cheaper AbbVie rival

UPDATE 3-Express Scripts drops Gilead hep C drugs for cheaper AbbVie rival

(Adds Molina CEO quote)

By Caroline Humer

Dec 22 (Reuters) – The largest U.S. pharmacy advantage manager
said on Monday it has lined adult a cheaper cost for AbbVie Inc’s
newly authorized hepatitis C diagnosis and, in most
cases, will no longer cover Gilead Sciences Inc’s
treatments after perplexing for scarcely a year to win a deeper

Express Scripts’ pierce reignited financier concerns
that curative companies will have to crawl to pricing
pressure from U.S. insurers and lawmakers over novel medications
whose cost can strech hundreds of thousands of dollars for some

Gilead shares forsaken 13 percent, or about $14.54, in Monday
trading to $93.88, yet it was still distant above a $65 level
reached in April, when insurers launched a vital cheer over its
multibillion-dollar hepatitis C business. Shares in major
biotechnology companies such as Amgen, Biogen
and Celgene fell some-more than 2 percent.

Express Scripts against a $84,000 cost tab of Gilead
Sciences’ Sovaldi diagnosis given a capitulation a year ago. It
said a $1,000-a-day pill, shown to heal hepatitis C in most
patients, was unaffordable.

Private insurers generally accept discounts of as many as
20 percent, though Gilead has resisted, bringing in $3 billion in
quarterly income for Sovaldi this year. The association maintains
that Sovaldi, and a next-generation chronicle called Harvoni that
was authorized in October, will save a U.S. medical system
the costs of caring for modernized liver illness in many patients.

Gilead mouthpiece Cara Miller pronounced on Monday in an e-mailed
statement that a association is stability to negotiate with
Express Scripts.

AbbVie’s Viekira Pak drug was authorized on Friday by U.S.
regulators and a association set a list cost of $83,319.

But it has concluded to a significantly reduce cost than Gilead
for Express Scripts’ National Preferred Formulary, a list of
approved and lonesome drugs for 25 million Americans, Express
Scripts Chief Medical Officer Steve Miller pronounced in an interview.

“This is unprecedented,” Miller said, explaining that the
pricing on specialty drugs of this form tend to be many closer
even when a aspirant enters a market. He did not yield a
specific dollar figure, though pronounced AbbVie had narrowed a price
gap to resemble what Western European countries compensate for
Sovaldi, that runs from $51,373 in France to $66,000 in


An estimated 3.2 million people in a United States have
hepatitis C. Most word skeleton have paid for Gilead’s drugs
only for patients with modernized liver illness to extent their
exposure to a cost. Express Scripts pronounced a AbbVie agreement
will concede it to extend diagnosis to all hepatitis C patients.

Dr. Camilla Graham, co-director of a viral hepatitis
center during Beth Israel Deaconess medical core in Boston, said
she is carefree other insurers will follow suit.

“My initial suspicion when we saw this was ‘Finally, we have a
solution to this open health crisis,'” Graham said.

A poignant apportionment of patients with hepatitis C receive
medical caring by government-paid programs, including
Medicare for a aged and disabled, Medicaid for a bad and
the U.S. Department of Defense.

State Medicaid agencies have also singular entrance to Gilead’s
Sovaldi, observant it is too costly even after they accept a
legally mandated 23 percent discount.

Matt Salo, executive executive of a National Association of
Medicaid Directors, pronounced he is “hopeful though cautious” about the
state agencies’ ability to remove serve rebates on tip of the
discount from Gilead and AbbVie.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a word industry’s
largest lobbying group, also hopes to see Gilead’s prices drop
now that there is foe in a market, pronounced spokesman
Brendan Buck.


The AbbVie fast consists of a cocktail of anti-viral
drugs to be taken as 3 pills in a morning and one in the
evening. The fast requires some patients also to take
ribavirin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the
regimen for patients with genotype 1 form of a virus, a most
common form of hepatitis C and a many formidable to treat.

Express Scripts pronounced starting Jan. 1, 2015, it would compensate for
the AbbVie drug usually for patients who have genotype 1. Express
Scripts will no longer cover Gilead’s Harvoni, a one-pill
treatment for patients with genotype 1 that costs $94,500 for a
12-week course. It will cover Sovaldi in cases where patients
have other forms of a disease.

The AbbVie fast is also not endorsed for patients
whose livers are not functioning and in people who have not
benefited from regulating comparison treatments. An Express Scripts
spokesman pronounced a association will make exceptions for those
patients to concede them to take Gilead’s medications.

Mario Molina, arch executive officer of Molina Healthcare
Inc., a tiny Medicaid insurer in California that has
criticized Gilead’s high prices, pronounced on Monday that he sees
more foe on drug prices ahead.

“I consider that this is a beginning,” Molina said,
describing a pierce as “a messenger of things to come.”

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Michele Gershberg,
Meredith Mazzilli and Dan Grebler)

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