Recently, the CVS Health Research Institute analyzed the rate of prescriptions for two novel hepatitis C treatments, Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir) and Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) a few weeks after their respective market releases. Following the release of Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), the most recent hepatitis C treatment, there was an increase in the number of patients being prescribed the drug (>7,500) when compared to the rate of Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) (>3,000), after Sovaldi’s release in the end of 2013 (around 2.5 times more). Notably, according to the report there has been a minimal decrease in Sovaldi prescription after the release of Harvoni, indicating an increase in the number of hepatitis C treated patients rather than a higher usage of Harvoni.
CVS Health Research Institute‘s goal is to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge connected to pharmaceuticals and healthcare by performing research collaborations with external academic institutions, participating in research funded by federal funding, analyzing and sharing CVS Health data sources, and coordinating pilot programs and initiatives.
“The high price of these new hepatitis C treatments and the expanding pool of patients receiving treatment signal a growing and costly trend in treating chronic medical conditions with specialty medicines,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer from CVS Health, co-author of the report, in a press release.
Dr. Brennan added that Hepatitis C is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to expensive medical cures, and that the healthcare industry should be prepared for an expansion of patients who will need to be treated with costly medicines for several frequent and more complicated diseases.
Dr. Alan Lotvin, M.D., executive vice president of CVS/specialty at CVS Health, said that novel treatments are being launched mainly for the treatment of hepatitis C, which is very expensive; therefore CVS Health’s main goal is to control costs and at the same time effectively treat patients’ health conditions. CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy has established several management tools that will facilitate the identification of patients that respond better to treatment in order to optimize efficacy and reduce avoidable costs.
“These will include utilization management and formulary approaches to ensure the most cost-effective, clinically appropriate therapy,” said Brennan. “We also provide comprehensive, patient-centered support to maximize the successful completion of therapy.”