Express Scripts Conference Tidbits

Yesterday, the FEHBlog attended an Express Scripts Federal Pharmacy Symposium. Here are some tidbits from that conference:

  • Express Scripts expects that the Hepatitis C biotech drug Sovaldi will add 5% to the prescription drug trend for this year (20% trend in total). Speakers noted that while Sovaldi does cure Hepatitis C, it is not a vaccine. The disease can reoccur. 
  • Best of times / worst of times (?) — 5400 new drugs currently are in the development pipeline. Express Scripts expects FDA approval next year of a new biotech cholesterol drug PCSK9( (?) and a new biotech drug that “revs up the immune system” in an effort to control cancers (BPI Inhibitor). Express Scripts projects that the cholesterol drug which will be used over the patient’s lifetime could add 5% to trend. 
  • Biosimilars will hit the marketplace next year. 
  • While the number of people taking opioids (oxycodone, etc.) is down, the users are taking more of these drugs. 259 million painkiller prescriptions were written in 2012. 60% of users take dangerous combinations of drugs. Express Scripts thinks that doctors, pharmacies, and patients need to be better educated about pain treatment, e.g., use longer acting pain killers for people with chronic pain, Express Scripts has an interesting program under which it can lock in a member to using particular pharmacies and/or doctors for their prescriptions, e.g., discourages doctor and pharmacy shopping.