- Last year, Express Scripts stunned industry observers after it successfully negotiated an exclusive deal for AbbVie's next-gen hepatits C drugs, setting off a pricing war with Gilead and its blockbusters Sovaldi and Harvoni. Now, this influential benefits manager (the largest in the U.S.) is setting its sights on cancer drugs, with the goal of getting lower procurement prices.
- One of the main targets for Express Scripts is the emerging class of PD-1 inhibitors for treatment of melanoma, such as Merck's Keytruda and BMS's Opdivo, which are also being tested in dozens of other cancers. Drugs in this class can cost up to $150,000 a year.
- Express Scripts is reportedly attempting to influence cancer drug prices by 2016.
Express Scripts is responding to a steep increase in the price of cancer drugs, which have risen dramatically since the 1990s (when only four of 44 available drugs cost $5000 per month or more), based on data from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Since 2010, there have been roughly 30 new cancer drugs brought to market—and at least half of them cost $10,000 per month or more. The challenge from the payer perspective is that using these drugs could become unsustainable at current prices.
But the industry won't know just how much of a game-changer Express Scripts' strategy will be until more information regarding the size of the discounts is available. Scripts CEO George Paz has also said that he will target the impending class of PCKS9 inhibitors from Sanofi/Regeneron and Amgen.