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News Briefs

February 26, 2021

✦ Cigna Corp.’s Evernorth division has reached a deal to acquire the telehealth platform MDLIVE, the companies said on Feb. 26. Cigna is already an MDLIVE customer and investor, and noted in a press release that the telehealth firm “has a sizable and forward-thinking client base, a class-leading provider network, brand recognition among customers and consumers, and experience in medical and behavioral health.” In a note to investors about the deal, Evercore ISI analysts wrote that “although we don’t view MDLIVE as particularly differentiated vs. other telehealth providers, it gives [Cigna] a platform to better integrate telehealth medical and behavioral visits into its healthcare offering to help control costs and improve patient experience, and expands the service offerings Evernorth can cross-sell into other health plans.” The analysts also noted that previously MDLIVE was considering going public, and its latest funding round valued it above $1 billion. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021. Read more at https://prn.to/3qZ9eOr.

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February 25, 2021

RADAR on Drug Benefits strives to cover business strategies and analysis for health plans, employers, PBMs and pharmaceutical companies. Please let us know how we’re doing — and what we can do better — by taking this brief reader survey. CLICK HERE for the survey

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Providers Lobby Regulators to Block ‘White Bagging’

February 25, 2021

Hospital groups are lobbying regulators at the federal and state levels to restrict the practice of “white bagging” in physician-administered specialty pharmacy dispensing. Practitioners and pharmacists argue that the practice, which is driven by vertically integrated insurer-PBM-specialty pharmacy combinations like UnitedHealth Group’s Optum and Anthem, Inc.’s IngenioRx, is a danger to patients with severe conditions, but it’s not clear whether regulators have the ability to block the practice.

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Brand Products Offer More Options for Heart Failure Treatment

With Chart: Current Market Access to Chronic Heart Failure Medications

February 25, 2021

Treatment for heart failure still relies significantly on tried-and-true generic drugs, but new brand-name entrants — including Novartis’ Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan) and Amgen’s Corlanor (ivabradine) — are important additions to prescribers’ clinical arsenals against the high-mortality condition, industry insiders say.

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States May Use ICER to Target ‘Unsupported’ Drug Price Hikes

With Chart: Seven of 10 Drugs Saw Price Hikes Without Novel Clinical Evidence, ICER Reports

February 25, 2021

As states continue their quest to lower prescription drug prices for the benefit of their budgets and residents, a small but growing number are considering legislation that would levy an 80% tax on drug price increases that the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness Research (ICER) deems “unsupported” by clinical evidence.

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News Briefs

February 25, 2021

✦ AlohaCare chose Anthem, Inc. PBM IngenioRx for a three-year contract to serve Medicaid and dual-eligible Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries in Hawaii, Anthem said on Feb. 24. IngenioRx will serve AlohaCare’s QUEST Integration members, who will be able to opt for services including pill packets for multiple-medication regimens and home delivery. The goal is to “improve the pharmacy experience and drive better health outcomes, while further lowering costs,” per a news release from the company. For more information, contact Lori McLaughlin at lori.mclaughlin2@anthem.com.

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