Shorter Harvoni Regimen Works for Some, Cutting Costs Without Sacrificing Outcomes, AIS Newsletter Reports

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The June issue of Atlantic Information Services’ Specialty Pharmacy News reviews various specialty pharmacies’ experience with treating hepatitis C patients on an eight-week Harvoni regimen.

Despite the impressive clinical trial results of Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s hepatitis C drug Harvoni, much attention has been paid to its steep price — over $1,000 dollars per pill per day. But, the shortest of Harvoni’s treatment plans, an eight-week regimen, is proving highly effective for certain patients, while also saving patients and health insurers money. For its June issue, Atlantic Information Services, Inc.’s (AIS) Specialty Pharmacy News (SPN) interviewed executives at specialty pharmacies about their experiences with treating patients on this shorter regimen.

The standard Harvoni treatment is 12 weeks. However, according to SPN, Harvoni’s label notes that eight-week treatments could be effective in patients without cirrhosis who haven’t yet received any treatment and whose pre-treatment viral load is less than 6 million IU/ml. At specialty pharmacy Burmans, 385 of hepatitis C patients, 26%, meet that requirement. Paul Urick, president of Managed Markets & Industry Relations at Burmans, tells SPN that of 74% of those eligible used and completed the eight-week regimen. While a small percentage qualify, “Burmans has had three out of four of these patients reach a cure with eight-week treatment regimens.”

For those patients who completed an eight-week course of Harvoni, SPN was able to calculate the following:

  • If those people had been on a 12-week regimen, the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) would have been more than $26 million.
  • The WAC for these patients on an eight-week regimen totaled $17,948,700.
  • The eight-week regimen saved nearly $9 million in Harvoni costs alone.

“We know that not all physicians will be willing to prescribe eight weeks of treatment at all times,” Urick adds, “especially since each patient may have extenuating circumstances beyond prior treatment status and cirrhotic status, among other factors....It’s at physicians’ discretion as to how long they want to treat patients.”

Visit http://aishealth.com/archive/nspn0615-01 to read the article in its entirety, including statements from executives at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, Avella Specialty Pharmacy and Prime Therapeutics about their experiences with the eight-week regimen.

About Specialty Pharmacy News
Specialty Pharmacy News is a monthly newsletter packed with business news and management strategies for containing costs and improving outcomes related to high-cost specialty products. Designed for health plans, specialty pharmacies, PBMs, pharma companies, providers and employers, the hard-hitting newsletter contains valuable insights into benefit design tactics, specialty markets for certain conditions, formulary decisions, merger and acquisition activity, payer-provider partnerships, patient adherence strategies, and new products. Visit http://aishealth.com/marketplace/specialty-pharmacy-news for more information.

About AIS
Atlantic Information Services, Inc. (AIS) is a publishing and information company that has been serving the health care industry for more than 25 years. It develops highly targeted news, data and strategic information for managers in hospitals, health plans, medical group practices, pharmaceutical companies and other health care organizations. AIS products include print and electronic newsletters, websites, looseleafs, books, strategic reports, databases, webinars and conferences. Learn more at http://AISHealth.com.

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Jill Brown, Executive Editor
Atlantic Information Services
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