NEW YORK (Reuters)—Express Scripts Holding, the largest manager of U.S. drug benefits, on Thursday launched a program aimed at tightening spending on drugs for pricey inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It is the latest Express Scripts effort intended to reduce spending on prescription drugs, such as last week’s announcement of a diabetes program. Early this year, Express Scripts said it was targeting a program for expensive inflammatory therapies.
Drugs to treat inflammation, such as AbbVie Inc.’s Humira and Amgen Inc.’s Enbrel, are among the top selling U.S. drugs and have more than doubled in price in the past five years.
The program has two parts. Express Scripts will give refunds to clients when patients discontinue a drug within 90 days, which it says could be worth $250 million in annual savings across its customer base, which is mainly large corporations.
It also said it will change its drug coverage to pit drugs directly against one another for each inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease. Express Scripts said this would enable more head-to-head competition.
About 10 million Americans have inflammatory conditions and the average 30-day prescription costs about $3,036, according to Express Scripts.