New data released by the CVS Health Research Institute provides a first look at utilization of new hepatitis C treatments. The analysis shows an increase in the number of eligible hepatitis C patients being treated following the October launch of Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), the latest hepatitis C treatment available in the U.S. Uptake for Harvoni is approximately 2.5 times the rate of Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) prescribing during the weeks following Sovaldi’s launch in December 2013.
In addition, the data shows there has been minimal reduction in Sovaldi use following the launch of Harvoni, suggesting an expansion in the pool of patients being treated, rather than Harvoni being used as a substitute for Sovaldi. The report analyzes de-identified CVS Caremark data and compares Harvoni prescriptions to Sovaldi prescriptions during the eight weeks post-launch for each treatment.
The report considers the extraordinary cost of treating hepatitis C, an issue of increasing importance since the release of Sovaldi, and signals a growing trend in the specialty drug category. The authors suggest that the critical issue is not the per-patient cost of these new medicines, but the size of the eligible population as high-priced specialty medications are now targeting patient populations that are in the millions. This underscores the need for thoughtful strategies to manage treatment costs, so they are not passed down to patients in the form of increased premiums.
CVS/caremark and the company’s specialty pharmacy have activated a number of tools to help payors manage cost of the new hepatitis C treatments while ensuring positive patient health outcomes. These tools include utilization management and prior authorization strategies to drive evidence-based decision-making that help identify patients who will best respond to therapy in order to optimize efficacy and reduce unnecessary costs. Other approaches include implementation of a thoughtful formulary management strategy and coordinated patient care.