Tag Archives: pharmacy

UnitedHealth Buys Cataman Corp.

The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth, will muscle up for its fight against rising prescription drug costs by spending more than $12 billion to buy pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran Corp.

Pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs, help negotiate the prices that customers pay for prescription drugs. They are seen as a key component in the push to contain soaring costs from specialty drugs, complex medicines that can represent treatment breakthroughs but often at a much higher price than other drugs.

Rising costs from these drugs are expected to affect more patients as use of the treatments grows and coverage for them shrinks.

UnitedHealth and Catamaran said Monday that their deal will combine businesses that have “distinctive, rapidly growing specialty pharmacy services” for a segment of the market that is expected to quadruple from an estimated $100 billion in revenues last year to possibly $400 billion by 2020.

Specialty drugs treat certain forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, among other conditions. They have always been pricey but confined to relatively small patient populations. That’s changing, due in part to some newer hepatitis C treatments that could be used by millions of patients.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

CVS Pushing for More Hospital and Health Care Affiliations

CVS Caremark pushed further ahead of rival Walgreen in launching today more partnerships with hospitals and health care systems as clinical affiliations become more common in the era of the Affordable Care Act.

CVS/Caremark’s announcement today that it has entered into a clinical affiliation with MedStar Health, a 10 hospital system in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area brings to 41 the number of health system and “health care provider affiliations” for CVS and its MinuteClinic subsidiary. Reached this morning for comment, Walgreen said it has more than 20 such clinical and hospital partnerships and continues to negotiate more.

But CVS deals have escalated in the last year, announcing eight clinical collaboration’s including today’s since May, which also followed an announcement earlier this year by CVS/Caremark CEO Larry Merlo to cease by this fall the selling of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“Finding cost-effective ways to increase access to care continues to be important, especially in this era of health care reform and we are pleased to work together with health care providers to help coordinate comprehensive care for their patients,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS/Caremark chief medical officer. “Through this clinical affiliation, we will also be integrating our electronic medical records and information systems to enable us to support patients with counseling and chronic disease monitoring.”

Earlier this year, Merlo told analysts and investors at UBS Global Healthcare Conference that the pharmacy chain eventually plans to have later this year a “footprint of about 1,500 clinics in at least 35 states by 27 teams.”

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary