WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health last month announced the launch of Reduced Rx, a prescription savings program offering discounts on certain medications directly to patients through the company’s pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark.
The announcement came a day after the company reported that prescription growth for CVS Caremark clients slowed in 2016 to its lowest level in four years.
Reduced Rx will help patients with high out-of-pocket costs afford essential medications. Through the program, CVS and Novo Nordisk will offer Novolin R , Novolin N and Novolin 70/30 human insulin at a cost of $25 per 10 ml vial — a savings of as much as $100 for cash-paying patients. Following the initial offering with Novo Nordisk, CVS intends to expand the program to other medications and to address other conditions.
The launch follows another affordability initiative from CVS earlier this year. Working with Impax Laboratories, the company announced in January that it has made the authorized generic for Adrenaclick — an epinephrine auto-injector for patients with allergic reactions — available at all CVS Pharmacy locations at the lowest cash price in the market, $109.99 for a two-pack.
“We developed the Reduced Rx prescription savings program with Novo Nordisk because we both recognized a need and an opportunity to make critical medications more affordable for patients,” said CVS chief operating officer Jon Roberts. “This savings program will leverage CVS Caremark’s expertise in providing lower-cost prescription drugs and fulfill our company’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”
Doug Langa, senior vice president and head of North American operations for Novo Nordisk, added: “This program underscores how important collaboration is to addressing the affordability challenges patients face in certain health plans or who remain uninsured. We all have a role to play, and that’s why we welcomed the chance to work with CVS Health on this program.
“We’re committed to developing sustainable solutions with customers and will continue to pursue opportunities to ensure that patients have access to insulin that is affordable.”
CVS chief medical officer Dr. Troy Brennan said, “With nearly 10% of the U.S. population living with diabetes, ensuring patients have access to affordable insulin is more important than ever. We’re pleased that our Reduced Rx prescription savings program can help assure that effective medications are also affordable.”
For CVS Caremark clients, prescription spending growth dropped to an average of 3.2% last year, compared to 5% in 2015. In addition, 38% of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their prescription benefit in 2016 than they did in 2015, despite rising drug prices. Out-of-pocket costs for members, meanwhile, dropped 3% from those in the previous year.
“No one is more concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs than CVS Health,” said Brennan. “Our very favorable drug trend results for 2016 demonstrate that we have been able to deliver best-in-class value to clients and their members.”
Unmanaged drug spending growth for 2016 was 11%, driven primarily by price inflation for branded specialty and traditional drugs, as well as by increased utilization due to an aging population. CVS Caremark was able to reduce spending growth for clients by 7.8 percentage points through PBM programs, including price protection and the negotiation of rebates, of which more than 90% are passed back to clients.
CVS Caremark also encouraged the use of less-expensive generic drugs through managed formularies and applied targeted approaches to addressing high-spend drivers such as hyper-inflating drugs.