- Anthem, one of the biggest U.S. payers, has joined an initiative to create low-cost generic drugs for hospital and retail pharmacies.
- The initiative CivicaScript, a subsidiary of hospital-owned nonprofit drugmaker Civica Rx, plans to initially develop and manufacture six to 10 common, but pricey, generic medicines that don't have enough market competition to drive down cost, officials said Wednesday.
- The first generics could be available as early as 2022. Civica declined to share specific medications or categories it is pursuing, citing competitive reasons.
Many drugs in the marketplace face little-to-no generic competition, resulting in sky-high prices for some medications. Those shortages of generic drugs and the high costs of many medicines led a number of health systems to found Civica Rx in 2018, which began supplying member hospitals with generics one year after its launch.
The nonprofit has mostly subcontracted with existing manufacturers to produce certain sterile injectable generics used in the inpatient setting, but in 2020 announced it was forming a new subsidiary, now called CivicaScript, in partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to bring cheaper generic prescription drugs directly to consumers in hospital or retail pharmacies.
By manufacturing generics and solidifying multi-year purchase agreements with participating payers, CivicaScript could save consumers "hundreds of millions of dollars annually within a few years post-launch," the venture said.
The addition of Anthem, which sells plans covering more than 43 million people in the U.S., should bring a larger slice of the market to Civica. The Indianapolis-based payer joins BCBSA and 17 independent and locally operated BCBS companies.
Combined, CivicaScript's partners represent close to 100 million lives.
A spokesperson told Healthcare Dive it is in talks with other interested for-profit payers, but it's "premature to share the nature of these conversations."
The goal of Civica is to make the drug supply chain less vulnerable to manipulation from manufacturers, which can collapse and raise the price of medications to drive out competitors before raking in profits.
Daptomycin, an antibiotic, had a price tag of more than $200 a vial before Civica introduced its own version, which helped bring the price down to around $25, the spokesperson said.
Since its inception, Civica Rx has quickly grown to more than 50 health systems representing almost 1,400 hospitals and one-third of all licensed hospital beds in the U.S. All of Civica's hospital members will have access to the retail medications manufactured by CivicaScript, the company said.
Officials also announced Wednesday that drug manufacturer Catalent also joined as a partner of CivicaScript, to produce widely prescribed generic medications for patients. The contract with Catalent is 10 years long.
And Civica has brought on Gina Guinasso to be president of CivicaScript. Previously Guinasso was head of commercial and Medicare formulary strategy at UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx, and has also held leadership positions in pubic policy, reimbursement strategy and payer account management at Takeda Oncology, Cubist Pharmaceuticals and Acorda Therapeutics.