CVS Health PBM Clients Achieved Lowest Prescription Drug Trend in Four Years, Despite Rising Drug Prices

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CVS Caremark's PBM management solutions helped reduce drug trend from 5.0 percent in 2015 to just 3.2 percent in 2016

Member out-of-pocket costs dropped 3.0 percent

WOONSOCKET, R.I., March 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that, in 2016, its pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients achieved the lowest drug trend in the past four years, despite rising drug prices. CVS Caremark clients saw their prescription drug trend drop to an average of 3.2 percent compared to 5.0 percent in 2015. In addition, 38 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients achieved a negative trend which means they actually spent less on their prescription benefit in 2016 than they did in 2015, despite rising drug prices. Out-of-pocket costs for members also dropped 3.0 percent compared to the previous year.

"No one is more concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs than CVS Health," said Troyen Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. "Our very favorable drug trend results for 2016 demonstrate that we have been able to deliver best-in-class value to clients and their members."

Unmanaged drug trend for 2016 was 11.0 percent, driven primarily by price inflation for branded specialty and traditional drugs, as well as increased utilization due to an aging population. CVS Caremark was able to reduce trend for clients by 7.8 percentage points to 3.2 percent through PBM management solutions that include price protection and the negotiation of rebates, of which more than 90 percent are passed back to clients. CVS Caremark also encouraged the use of less expensive generic drugs through managed formularies and applied targeted approaches to addressing high-spend drivers such as hyper-inflating drugs. On average, clients who selected the CVS Caremark standard managed formulary achieved a trend of 2.2 percent, which was less than half the trend of 4.5 percent for clients who used a custom formulary and opted out of drug removals. Additionally, clients who chose our generic-focused value formulary had the highest generic dispensing rate (GDR) at 88.2 percent and the lowest baseline cost at $81.86 per member per month.

Although overall drug price inflation was lower in 2016, it still accounted for almost 80 percent of the unmanaged trend. The relative impact of inflation on specialty branded products continued to increase relative to traditional branded medications. At the same time, overall specialty products grew to nearly 36 percent of overall gross spend. Three of the top five categories contributing to gross trend were specialty drug categories, including anti-inflammatory medications for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis; antineoplastics and adjunctive therapies used to treat cancer; and psychotherapeutic and neurological agents, including multiple sclerosis therapies. Meanwhile, generic utilization growth kept costs low for members as well as clients and drove a 3.5 point overall cost reduction for clients.

CVS Caremark offers a variety of solutions, including flexible formulary options based on clinical evidence, to help manage pharmacy costs while ensuring patients have access to the medications they need. In addition, CVS Caremark's strategic assessment of the pharmaceutical marketplace enables the company to negotiate aggressive rebates and help to lower costs for clients. More than 90 percent of brand manufacturer contracts also include price protection, a critical element in protecting clients in a market characterized by significant drug price increases.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2016 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients employers and health plans.

To learn more about the CVS Caremark 2016 drug trend, click here.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contact

Christine Cramer
CVS Health
(401) 770-3317
christine.cramer@cvshealth.com

Investor Contact

Nancy Christal
CVS Health
(914) 722-4704
nancy.christal@cvshealth.com

SOURCE CVS Health

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CVS Health's Advanced Care Scripts (ACS) Earns URAC Accreditation for Specialty Pharmacy

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The designation demonstrates the highest level of commitment to quality healthcare

WOONSOCKET, R.I., April 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) announced today that Advanced Care Scripts (ACS) has earned accreditation in Specialty Pharmacy from URAC, the independent leader in promoting healthcare quality through accreditation, certification and measurement. By achieving this status, ACS has demonstrated a comprehensive commitment to quality care, improved processes and better patient outcomes.

"We are pleased to receive this accreditation from URAC, which underscores our commitment to providing high-quality care to our patients," said Alan Lotvin, M.D. Executive Vice President of CVS Specialty. "Through our programs and services at ACS, we provide comprehensive, patient-centered care and treatment support for patients taking specialty medications to help improve patient outcomes."

ACS manages and dispenses specialty medications to patients with complex chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, hemophilia and cancer. The comprehensive patient care model of ACS provides compliance and adherence support and cost-effective solutions for all classes of specialty medications.

"It's necessary for specialty pharmacies to provide a higher level of treatment for patients so desired outcomes are achieved. ACS shows a dedication to patient education and safety through the recognition of quality it received with URAC's independent accreditation," said URAC President and CEO Kylanne Green. "With URAC accreditation, people know that ACS strives to adhere to industry best practices."

The URAC accreditation process demonstrates a commitment to quality services and serves as a framework to improve business processes through benchmarking organizations against nationally recognized standards. In addition, a URAC-accredited specialty pharmacy has policies in place to ensure consumers have access to appropriate medications; maintains methods to measure customer satisfaction; and has a patient-centered strategy for its patient management program that includes coordination of care, communication and education, patient rights and responsibilities, among other factors.

About URAC

Founded in 1990, URAC is the independent leader in promoting healthcare quality through accreditation, certification, education, and measurement. URAC is a nonprofit organization developing evidence-based measures and standards through inclusive engagement with a range of stakeholders committed to improving the quality of healthcare. Our portfolio of accreditation and certification programs span the healthcare industry, addressing healthcare management, healthcare operations, health plans, pharmacies, telehealth providers, physician practices, and more. URAC accreditation is a symbol of excellence for organizations to show-case their validated commitment to quality and accountability.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contact:

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
(401) 770 8868
Christina.Beckerman@cvshealth.com

SOURCE CVS Health

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CVS Health Announces Plans to Focus on Kidney Care and Dialysis Treatment

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Company's unique enterprise assets can help improve patient outcomes and control costs

WOONSOCKET, R.I., April 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced a new initiative focused on chronic kidney disease and dialysis, which builds upon the company's focus on driving innovation in the management of chronic disease to help improve patient health outcomes while managing costs. This new program will focus on early identification of kidney disease and expansion of home dialysis in order to optimize care for patients with chronic kidney disease. CVS Health's unique enterprise assets along with the company's introduction of a truly innovative new home hemodialysis technology, position the company as a positive disruptor in the field with the ability to help reshape and redefine the kidney care space.

"In dialysis today, there is an enormous unmet medical need with high levels of mortality, frequent hospitalizations and poor quality of life for affected patients," said Alan Lotvin, M.D., executive vice president and head of CVS Specialty. "As we explored this area it became clear that our enterprise assets from our experience with complex patient home care through Coram, the breadth of our chronic disease management capabilities with CVS Specialty and Accordant, and our deep payor relationships at CVS Caremark will enable us to create a unique value proposition to help reshape dialysis treatment."

CVS Health will be approaching this new initiative in a staged approach with phases focused on early disease identification and patient education, followed by the development of a comprehensive home dialysis program, for both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. As part of the home dialysis program, CVS Health will be initiating a pivotal clinical trial to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a new home hemodialysis device in support of a planned FDA submission to obtain market clearance. The device has been designed with features intended to make home hemodialysis simple and safe for patients, in order to facilitate longer, more frequent treatments. In published clinical research, longer, more frequent hemodialysis treatments lead to better outcomes in appropriate patient populations.

"Diagnosing kidney disease early is the only way to prevent kidney failure and cardiovascular complications," said Joseph Vassalotti, M.D., chief medical officer, National Kidney Foundation and a board-certified nephrologist. "There is an urgent need to increase patient awareness of not only the disease itself but also of the treatment options available for both early and chronic kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. Many patients believe in-center dialysis is their only kidney failure treatment choice, and do not know about patient-centered options, including home dialysis or kidney transplant," added Dr. Vassalotti.

"While in-center dialysis clinics are currently the most common choice for hemodialysis treatment, published clinical research has shown improved cardiac health, metabolic control, and survival for patients who are treated with longer, more frequent dialysis treatments. This treatment paradigm is best delivered in the convenience of a patient's home," said Bruce Culleton, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer, CVS Specialty. "CVS Health is uniquely positioned to build a solution that will enable us to identify and intervene earlier with patients to optimize the management of chronic kidney disease, while at the same time making home dialysis therapies a real option for more patients."

Nearly 700,000 Americans have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), with close to 500,000 of these patients on active dialysis and more than 120,000 new ESRD cases diagnosed each year. Financially, this disease represents a huge cost burden, costing Medicare nearly $65 billion a year for chronic kidney disease care, and another $34 billion directly related to dialysis patient care. Despite this high level of spending, outcomes for Medicare patients treated with traditional in-center hemodialysis, for example, are poor with mortality rates up to 10 times higher than among the general Medicare population.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Investor Contact:

Mike McGuire
(401) 770-4050
michael.mcguire@cvshealth.com

Media Contact:

Christine Cramer
(401) 770-3317
christine.cramer@cvshealth.com

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Coram CVS/Specialty Infusion Services Opens New Branch Pharmacy in Richmond, VA

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --Coram CVS/specialty infusion services announces the opening of a new branch pharmacy in Richmond, Virginia that will serve the state from Fredericksburg to the North Carolina border, including the Richmond and Norfolk areas. The new facility offers a number of services, including:

Coram Logo
  • Comprehensive offering of infusion therapies, including anti-infective services, parenteral nutrition (PN) and enteral nutrition (tube feeding), cardiac/inotropic therapies, immunoglobulins (IVIg and SCIg), Alpha-1 therapies, pain and palliative care services, and hydration therapy.
  • Brand-new compounding "clean room," which is compliant with USP 797 pharmaceutical compounding standards.
  • Individual patient counseling and education.
  • Skilled nursing services for in-home infusion care.

"Coram is pleased to build upon our long-standing investment in Virginia with the opening of this new branch," said Rob Allen, President, Coram CVS/specialty infusion services. "We know that infusion care provided in the home or at an alternate site infusion suite can help promote better health and an improved quality of life for patients with complex infusion needs."

The address of the new branch is 1574 East Parham Road, Richmond, VA 23228. The branch's toll-free number is 855.276.8951; their local phone number is 804.553.3970. The branch fax number is 804.553.3971.

About Coram CVS/specialty infusion services
CoramCVS/specialty infusion services is a leading national provider of specialty home infusion and specialty pharmacy services. The integration of Coram and CVS/caremark pharmacy services, a division of CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS), enables the company to offer more than 65 years of combined experience; enhanced, comprehensive infusion services; expanded payer access; and an expanded national footprint. Fully accredited by The Joint Commission, Coram has more than 85 locations across the country, including 65 infusion suites, ensuring both a national presence and comprehensive local coverage. Coram's nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and other clinical staff provide personalized care to thousands of home and infusion suite patients every day. For more information, please visit our website at www.coramhc.com.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Caremark
(401)770 3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

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Coram CVS/Specialty Infusion Services Opens New Branch Pharmacy And Infusion Suite In El Paso, TX

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --Coram CVS/specialty infusion services announces the opening of a new branch pharmacy in El Paso, Texas that will serve the Big Bend, Panhandle, and Permian Basin areas of Texas, as well as southern New Mexico. The new facility, which is larger than the previous branch location, offers a number of services, including:

  • Ambulatory infusion suite, which provides an alternative to a hospital setting where patients can receive IV infusion of specialty drugs in a safe, monitored environment.
  • Comprehensive offering of infusion therapies, including anti-infective services, parenteral nutrition (PN) and enteral nutrition (tube feeding), cardiac/inotropic therapies, immunoglobulins (IVIg and SCIg), Alpha-1 therapies, and pain and palliative care services.
  • Brand-new compounding "clean room," which is compliant with USP 797 pharmaceutical compounding standards.
  • Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line placement using state-of-the-art technology. This new service enables infusion therapy to begin immediately, without the need for an x-ray confirmation or hospitalization.
  • Individual patient counseling and education.
  • Skilled nursing services.
  • Nursing language services available in English and Spanish.
"As the only national infusion services company in the area, Coram is pleased to build upon our long-standing investment in the El Paso community and the surrounding areas with the opening of this branch," said Rob Allen, President, Coram CVS/specialty infusion services. "We know that infusion care provided in the home or at an alternate site infusion suite can help promote better health and an improved quality of life for patients with complex infusion needs."

The address of the new branch is 3817 Constitution Drive, Suite 300, El Paso, TX 79922-1367. The branch phone number is 915.833.0140; the fax number is 915.581.9366.

An Open House will be held at the branch on Tuesday, May 13, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm. The event will feature tours of the new facility, in-service training for nursing staff, door prizes, and food and drinks. The event will also feature demonstrations of the branch's new PICC line placement technology the BARD Access System and the Sherlock 3CG Tip Confirmation System.

About Coram CVS/specialty infusion services
CoramCVS/specialty infusion services is a leading national provider of specialty home infusion and specialty pharmacy services. The integration of Coram and CVS/caremark pharmacy services, a division of CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS), enables the company to offer more than 65 years of combined experience; enhanced, comprehensive infusion services; expanded payer access; and an expanded national footprint. Fully accredited by The Joint Commission, Coram has more than 85 locations across the country, including 65 infusion suites, ensuring both a national presence and comprehensive local coverage. Coram's nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and other clinical staff provide personalized care to thousands of home and infusion suite patients every day. For more information, please visit our website at www.coramhc.com.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Caremark
(401)770 3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

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SOURCE CVS Caremark

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CVS Caremark Launches Innovative Specialty Connect Program at all CVS/pharmacy Locations

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) has reinvented the specialty patient experience with Specialty Connect, a specialty prescription services program. The program leverages CVS Caremark's unique retail and specialty pharmacy resources to offer patients unsurpassed choice and flexibility in how they access their specialty medications, while providing centralized expert clinical support.

Specialty medications treat complex conditions, including hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, oncology and rheumatoid arthritis, and often require special handling, storage and administration. Historically, patients faced three key challenges when filling a new prescription for a specialty medication: submitting the prescription, having easy access to centralized expert clinical and benefits support, and navigating the logistics involved in receiving the drug. For example, as many as one quarter of patients who tried to fill a specialty prescription at a traditional retail pharmacy faced barriers. These complications often resulted in delayed or abandoned treatment and added to the confusion that patients already face when managing a new or chronic condition.

Specialty Connect simplifies getting started on therapy and helps patients stay on therapy to support improved health outcomes. Patients have a new option to bring their specialty prescriptions to any CVS/pharmacy location, as a complement to existing specialty pharmacy processes. After initiating their prescriptions, patients receive insurance guidance and dedicated clinical support by phone from a team of specialty pharmacy experts, trained in each therapeutic area, who are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The program also makes it easy for patients to get their specialty drugs, whether they choose between in-store pickup at any of the 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide[1] or receive their medications via mail service delivery.

[1]In compliance with state laws in-store pickup will not be available in WV & AR.

"Specialty Connect helps specialty patients with these critical therapies by helping to eliminate common challenges they had often faced and by offering them flexibility and choice," said Alan Lotvin, M.D., Executive Vice President of Specialty Pharmacy for CVS Caremark. "The program makes it easier and more convenient for patients to submit and receive their specialty prescriptions either through CVS/pharmacy or by mail. What's more, it increases medication adherence, improves outcomes and lowers overall health care costs for specialty patients and payors."

Specialty Connect has demonstrated high levels of patient satisfaction as well as improved adherence for specialty pharmacy patients. In fact, pilot program results demonstrated a 13 percentage point increase (from 66 to 79 percent) in patients who were optimally adherent to their medication. Early program results also show that the program is improving upon the patient experience and reducing traditional barriers to getting started on medication, with 97 percent of patients successfully starting on therapy after only their first interaction at a CVS/pharmacy store. In addition, more than half of patients, many of whom were existing mail service pharmacy customers, chose to pick up their specialty medications at CVS/pharmacy.

CVS Caremark was awarded the 2014 Rx Benefit Innovation Award by the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) for the Specialty Connect program.

About CVS Caremark
CVS Caremark is dedicated to helping people on their path to better health as the largest integrated pharmacy company in the United States. Through the company's more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores; its leading pharmacy benefit manager serving more than 64 million plan members; and its retail health clinic system, the largest in the nation with more than 800 MinuteClinic locations, it is a market leader in mail order, retail and specialty pharmacy, retail clinics, and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. As a pharmacy innovation company with an unmatched breadth of capabilities, CVS Caremark continually strives to improve health and lower costs by developing new approaches such as its unique Pharmacy Advisor program that helps people with chronic diseases such as diabetes obtain and stay on their medications. Find more information about how CVS Caremark is reinventing pharmacy for better health at info.cvscaremark.com.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Caremark
(401) 770 3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

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CVS Health to Adopt Epic Electronic Health Record System for CVS Specialty Care Management Programs

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., March 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that it has selected Epic as the electronic health record (EHR) system for CVS Specialty's care management programs. The transition to Epic will help integrate and improve clinical processes for CVS Specialty, including Accordant, which provides care management program services for patients with rare, chronic diseases. This announcement expands the Company's use of the Epic EHR system beyond MinuteClinic which transitioned to the system in 2015.

"As the specialty pharmacy of choice for many payors and patients, we are focused on creating the most clinically advanced specialty pharmacy experience to help improve care and outcomes for our patients," said Alan Lotvin, M.D. Executive Vice President of CVS Specialty. "We are pleased to transition our care management programs onto the Epic platform, which will enable immediate information sharing with other health care providers across the patient's entire care team. This connectivity is integral in providing the best possible, coordinated health."

Epic the most widely used EHR in the U.S. will support CVS Specialty's evidence-based care management programs and facilitate connectivity with health care providers nationwide that currently use Epic, including many major health systems, hospital networks and physician groups. Epic interoperability exchanges 1.3 million records daily with tens of thousands of organizations via various national and regional networks including hospitals, clinics and providers.

"By transitioning to the Epic EHR, we can further coordinate care across health care disciplines and settings, which promotes more effective and informed health care decision making," added Trip Hofer, President of Accordant.

Specialty pharmacy is one of the fastest growing health care segments in the U.S. As the largest specialty pharmacy, CVS Specialty provides advanced clinical services for eligible patients who require treatment for rare or complex conditions. This includes drug therapy management, dispensing and infusion services, in addition to customized support and counseling to help ensure appropriate and safe medication use and achieve positive health outcomes. Eligible patients receive ongoing disease education, counseling and benefits verification, as well as coordination of care with multiple health care providers, comprehensive patient education and adherence management.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Contact:

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
(401) 770-8868
christina.beckerman@cvshealth.com

SOURCE CVS Health

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Promoting Access to More Affordable Medications

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With more than half of U.S. adults regularly taking at least one prescription medication, and a large number taking several,https://www.consumerreports.org/prescription-drugs/too-many-meds-americas-love-affair-with-prescription-medication/ drug affordability continues to be top of mind for Americans. Generic drugs and biosimilar medicines, which can offer lower-cost and clinically equivalent alternatives to brand name prescription drugs and biologics, are one way patients can lower their drug costs. In fact, a recent CVS Health public opinion poll found that eighty-five percent of respondents report that switching to a generic saved them money and was also effective in treating their condition.

Addressing Rising Drug Prices: Streamlining the Generic Approvals Process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked to improve competition in the marketplace for generic drugs by reducing the backlog of applications awaiting review at FDA, and most recently, releasing a set of statements as part of its Drug Competition Action Plan in support of increased generics in the marketplace. This three-step plan to boost the rate at which generic drug applications are reviewed, processed and approved includes to:https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm591184.htm

  • Reduce gaming from branded companies;
  • Resolve scientific and regulatory checks on drugs; and
  • Streamline the generic review process.

These strategies will work in tandem to curtail the multiple cycles of review that typical drug applications are subject to and in the process ease the backlog of thousands of generics pending approval. These efforts will build off of already strong progress last year. In November, for example, FDA saw the highest number of generics approved in a single month, and 2017, as a whole, brought significant decreases in the amount of time it takes to review and approve generics.

Increasing Accessibility of Biosimilar Products

Generics have helped save billions of dollars in drug costs, and biosimilars have similar potential – estimates say the U.S. could save up to $250 billion over ten years.http://lab.express-scripts.com/lab/insights/industry-updates/the-$250-billion-potential-of-biosimilars The full potential of the biosimilar market has not been realized yet, but FDA and CVS Health are working to change that. FDA has worked to help providers understand the valuable role of biosimilarshttps://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2017/10/fda-taking-new-steps-to-better-inform-physicians-about-biosimilars-through-education-about-these-potentially-cost-saving-options/  in reducing costs for consumers, and as part of its Drug Competition Action Plan it hopes to increase the number of biosimilars on the market.  CVS Health has been successful in advocating for reimbursement policies that encourage the development of biosimilars, and we have also encouraged FDA to finalize industry guidance so biosimilar developers have a consistent approval process.

Helping Consumers Access Lower-Cost Alternatives

We are encouraged by FDA’s progress and commitment, and will continue to work toward ensuring all Americans have access to affordable medicines. For instance, our pharmacy benefit management strategies work to create multiple avenues that connect our members to lower-cost, clinically equivalent options, including encouraging the use of generic medicines through our formulary strategy. Additionally, our strategic partnership with Epic increases the visibility of patients’ drug benefits at the point of prescribing, including information about clinically effective options at the lowest out-of-pocket cost for the patient, to facilitate better prescription-related decision-making for patients and their care teams.

For more information on how CVS Health is working to ensure consumers have access to affordable medicines, check out our Rising Drug Prices information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

CVS Health is working to promote more affordable medications for patients
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Pharmacies & Retail Health Clinics Lower Costs and Improve Outcomes

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What should communities have on their to-do list for 2018? According to a recent CVS Health survey, nearly 40 percent of Americans see access to care as the top health care priority to address locally. Already one of the most accessible points of care in many communities across the country, pharmacies offer a variety of convenient, affordable services close to home.

Quality, Affordable Care is Closer Than You May Realize

Eight out of 10 Americans live within 10 miles of a CVS pharmacy, and 62 percent of people report going to their local pharmacy at least once a month. With millions of Americans visiting these sites every day, pharmacies are well-positioned – and equipped – to support the health care needs of local patients.  

At CVS Health, our 30,000 pharmacists across the nation are trained to administer vaccinations, provide medication counseling, and deliver disease management support. What’s more, CVS Health has more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations where patients can walk in without an appointment and receive care for acute and chronic health issues from nurse practitioners and physician assistants who specialize in family health care. MinuteClinic’s recently expanded health services provide easier access to immunizations, treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, travel health, skin conditions, women’s services, preventive health screenings and monitoring, and general wellness care.

Improving Health Outcomes and Reducing Systemic Costs

The preventive care services and chronic condition monitoring offered at retail pharmacies and health clinics help identify potential health concerns sooner and can prevent chronic conditions from worsening. One study found that increased use of preventive clinical services could avert the loss of more than two million life-years annually in the United States and save nearly $4 billion in personal health care spending.https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2008.0701

Additionally, access to care at retail pharmacies not only benefits individuals and their families, but also the health system as a whole. By providing a lower-cost alternative to more expensive health care settings, such as emergency rooms (ERs), where visits have been on the rise at a significant cost to the health system,http://newsroom.acep.org/2015-05-04-ER-Visits-Continue-to-Rise-Since-Implementation-of-Affordable-Care-Act pharmacy use can help communities cut costs while improving outcomes. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 27 percent of ER visits could be treated at a lower-cost site like a retail health clinic, saving the health care system up to $4 billion annually.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412873/

From administering immunizations to providing medication counseling to delivering disease management support, pharmacies and retail health clinics play an important role in helping community members on their path to better health. 

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Health Care Delivery & Innovation information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

CVS Health MinuteClinic provider examining patient
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On Target: What the New Hypertension Guidelines Mean

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Nearly half of all American adults now have high blood pressure. This is according to the latest hypertension guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), which now define high blood pressure as 130/80 mmHg, down from 140/90 mmHg. As a result of this change, the total number of adults with high blood pressure is expected to increase from 72 million to 103 million.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/health/blood-pressure-treatment-guidelines.html

High blood pressure is the most significant modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. It is also one of the most costly diseases. In fact, it is estimated that in 2016 the cost to treat CVD in the U.S. topped $555 billion, and by 2035 spending is expected to rise to more than a trillion dollars.https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf

While new guidelines mean a greater number of Americans now have elevated blood pressure, for the majority of patients, lifestyle changes will be sufficient to bring their blood pressure under control. This can include following a heart-healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, increasing regular physical exercise, weight loss and limiting alcohol intake.

In addition, the number of people requiring a prescription, such as an anti-hypertensive drug, to help manage their blood pressure will likely increase. For example, the new guideline could result in an additional 39 million blood pressure medication prescriptions each year for CVS Caremark™ pharmacy benefit management (PBM) members, taking into account that not all those who are newly diagnosed will require medication therapy.

Fortunately, the majority of drugs in this class are available as generics. Therefore, out-of-pocket costs for patients, including CVS Caremark members should be low, and the increase in cost to payors is also estimated to be relatively small. Some experts also believe that the lower blood pressure targets could encourage more people to keep their blood pressure under control, which could lead to fewer costly events such as heart attacks, strokes and hospitalizations. In fact, research shows that for every dollar spent on medication, adherence to blood pressure therapies can result in more than a $10 savings in avoidable downstream health care costs.http://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.1087 Based on the number of new patients who may now be on blood pressure medications under the new guidelines, that could result in a total savings of nearly $21 billion annually across the health care system.CVS Health Analytic Consulting Services, 2017.

CVS Health Can Help

While lowering high blood pressure can help reduce a person’s risk of CVD,https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/health/blood-pressure-study.html?_r=0 lifestyle modifications and medication therapy can be hard to manage. CVS Health can help.

For example,

  • CVS Caremark PBM members can take advantage of the Pharmacy Advisor® counseling program. This includes in-person or telephonic support from CVS pharmacists who can help answer questions about a patient’s medications or other chronic, co-morbid conditions as well as offer lifestyle management support. This can help patients stay on track with their medications, which can help to keep their blood pressure in check and under control.
  • Regular blood pressure readings are very important to help track blood pressure over time. In nearly every CVS Pharmacy™, patients can find a free blood pressure monitoring machine to help. In addition, MinuteClinic® is also a heart-healthy resource. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can perform the five biometric screenings that can determine a patient’s risk for heart disease: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. They can also answer questions about blood pressure readings and educate patients about their condition and management options. Plus, a copy of the MinuteClinic visit records can also be sent to patients’ primary care physicians, with patient permission, to help connect care and keep patients’ health records up to date.
  • CVS pharmacists also play an important role in helping patients manage their blood pressure. Pharmacists are on the front lines of health care and have frequent interactions with patients filling prescriptions for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure. They can help coordinate care with the patient’s health care providers and also offer solutions such as prescription refill reminders to encourage patients with chronic conditions to stay adherent to their medications. In fact, research shows that patients with chronic conditions who receive support from pharmacists are more likely to reach their clinical targets.http://annals.org/aim/article/2517407/pharmacist-led-chronic-disease-management-systematic-review-effectiveness-harms-compared

CVS Health is a national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women, an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke as the number one killer of women and to empower women to take charge of their heart health. As a sponsor, CVS Health has pledged to raise a minimum of $10 million over three years to support life-saving cardiovascular research and education.

 MinuteClinic patients gets blood pressure checked
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