Abarca, a small Puerto Rico-based pharmacy benefits manager, stated Tuesday Amgen had agreed to provide its health insurer purchasers an extra discount on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel if sufferers stop taking it after three months.
Pharmacy benefits managers, such as Abarca act as agents in the drug supply chain and negotiate discounts on medicines on behalf of health insurers. Relying on the discounts drug companies are keen to offer, pharmacy benefits managers make decisions about which medications to include in policies.
Abarca said its new agreement with Amgen would help health insurers save costs when sufferers discontinue the drug due to side effects or a lack of effectiveness. It didn’t disclose the size of the additional discount.
In 2018 , Abarca, which currently serves 2.5 million members, signed a similar contract with Amgen over its cholesterol medicine Repatha and with Biogen over coverage of its drugs to treat multiple cases of sclerosis.
Abarca’s Chief Operating Officer Javier Gonzalez forecasts Enbrel costs the health insurance plans the firm represents between $4,000 and $5,000 per patient every month.
The medicine has been in the U.S. market since 1998 and is Amgen’s best-selling medicine, bringing in revenue of $1.37 billion in the third quarter.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed biosimilars to Enbrel, along with one from Novartis AG, they haven’t yet been launched due to continuous patent litigation.