CVS resumes coverage of blockbuster blood thinner after price drop follows January exclusion
Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.
“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”
BMS brought in more than $9 billion in sales from its anticoagulant Eliquis in 2020, and it continues to see growth with more than $8 billion in sales in the first nine months of 2021 (nearly $4.5 billion of which went to Pfizer in 2021 as part of their partnership).
And while the exclusion that began last January raised a furor among patients who lost access to their blood thinner, BMS said 95% of Eliquis patients nationally were not affected by the initial formulary exclusion from CVS.
“The Bristol Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance is pleased with the decision to add Eliquis (apixaban) back to preferred status on select formularies (standard/advanced control) within CVS Health Commercial, Zinc Health Services (GPO), effective July 1, 2022,” a BMS spokesperson said in a statement. “Eliquis has been associated with a more favorable safety profile than alternate therapies, including fewer bleeding events, as suggested by clinical trial data and further complemented by real-world evidence generated by multiple observational studies.”
The shift from CVS also follows a letter sent earlier this month by Democrats Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Rep. Katie Porter (CA) to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission noting that prices for Eliquis and its competitor Xarelto “have risen every year since they entered the market at a rate far outpacing inflation, without any meaningful improvements to the medications or any apparent increase in production costs.”