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Cholesterol drug’s price cut widely praised


Pharmacy benefit managers, cardiologists, and others praised a pharma maker for significantly reducing the price of its high cholesterol drug.

headshot of Steve Nissen


Pharmacy benefit managers, cardiologists, and others praised a pharma maker for significantly reducing the price of its high cholesterol drug.

Amgen slashed the price of evolocumab (Repatha) by 60% to $5,850 per year.

Earlier this year, Sanofi and Regeneron also cut the price of their high cholesterol medication, alirocumab (Praluent). As a result, the drug became the exclusive PCSK9 inhibitor therapy on Express Scripts’ national formulary.

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Amgen said the price cut will lower patient copays, especially for Medicare patients. An estimated 75% of Medicare patients prescribed a PCSK9 inhibitor never actually fill their prescriptions, primarily due to high out-of-pocket costs, said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, in a statement from the company.

“I’m very pleased Amgen made this decision. This is a life-and-death disease. Having an effective therapy like this at an affordable price will make a big difference,” Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic Foundation, told FormularyWatch.

Nissen expects to see an uptick in prescribing of Repatha.

Related: Pharma exec defends 400% price hike

"With a new lower list price for Repatha, Amgen is taking an important step forward to help payers be better positioned to provide breakthrough medicines and help people achieve better outcomes,” said Steve Miller, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Express Scripts, in the Amgen statement.

Amgen’s move is also designed to increase sales to be “more in-line with corporate financial projections,” John Santilli, president of Market Access Intelligence, tells FormularyWatch. “The lower price will also begin to appease cardiologists who have complained about cost for the 3.4 million high-risk cardiovascular patients they treat in the market,” Santilli said.

Similarly, Praluent’s price cut helped Sanofi and Regeneron increase sales of the drug. In fact, the drug’s sales nearly doubled from $46 million in the second quarter of 2017 to $74 million in the second quarter of 2018, according to Santilli.

Meanwhile, Amgen is making Repatha available at a reduced list price by introducing new National Drug Codes (NDCs). SureClick, the most commonly used delivery system, will be available immediately at the lower cost while the Pre-Filled Syringe and Pushtronex (monthly, on-body infusor) delivery systems will be available in the next two to three months, Amgen said in a statement.

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