July 05, 2017

Convenience Comes at a Cost

, Cost Containment

A recent article in The Atlantic brings to light the impact of Vimovo, a combination drug.

Vimovo consists of naproxen (known by the brand name Aleve) and esomeprazole magnesium (known as Nexium). The drug was created because some patients experience an upset stomach caused by naproxen, a pain reliever.

The pill is considered a “convenience drug” enabling patients to take a single pill instead of two, which is part of its appeal. However, only a minority of patients get an upset stomach, so the drug is unnecessarily prescribed to many patients.

On the back end, insurances companies are charged thousands of dollars. Vimovo’s net sales have been more than $455 million since 2014, according to the article.

Horizon Pharma, the specialty pharmaceutical company behind Vimovo, is also responsible for Duexis, “a similar convenience drug that combines ibuprofen and famotidine, aka Advil and Pepcid” which is responsible for an additional $465 million in net sales, according to The Atlantic.

In his story, Marshall Allen, a reporter for The Atlantic, attributes drugs like Vimovo and Duexis to creating another “waste stream” of the U.S. health care system, ultimately resulting in ever-increasing premiums.

Last year, CorVel published an article about combination drugs and how to manage them – specifically identifying Duexis as a high-dollar combination drug. Over a year later, CorVel’s advice is still the same: prospective management.

Flagging combination drugs and coupling automated management with actual human intervention helps CorVel’s clients better manage pharmacy exposure. CorVel’s certified pharmacy technicians call the prescribing physician to convert drugs based on medical necessity, appropriateness and general awareness to increase patient safety and help reduce payor costs.

With exposure to 100% of drug transactions and integrating the data captured, CorVel delivers real-time risk profiling. Via their interface, CorVel signals their team and their clients regarding potential opioid and other risks, and engages the appropriate interventions early enough to change the direction of the claim. By prospectively managing combination drugs, CorVel is committed to providing prospective and clinically appropriate management to manage their clients’ pharmacy costs.

To read more about combination drugs, including CorVel’s ability to save one of their clients 67% on Vimovo by conducting a brand to generic conversion, click here.