Zurich : Big U.S. pharmacy chain CVS Health’s move to jettison an Actelion drug from a list of covered medications is not expected to have a “meaningful impact” on the Swiss biotechnology company’s sales, a spokesman said.
CVS released a list of more than 30 drugs it was removing from its 2017 standard formulary, including Actelion’s Opsumit for deadly pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH.
Andrew Weiss, an Actelion spokesman, said CVS Health was merely continuing its current policy regarding Opsumit prescriptions. This would not stop doctors who believe patients should receive Opsumit from making special demands that they get it from stores within the CVS chain, Weiss said.
Furthermore, just a fraction of U.S. PAH sufferers get medications through CVS, he said, adding that government-supported programs Medicaid and Medicare were more important when it comes to covering Opsumit.
“We don’t expect the decision by CVS Health to have a meaningful impact on our business with Opsumit,” Weiss said.
Actelion’s shares fell 1.2 percent by 1015 GMT.
Analysts from Barclays also said they were not overly concerned, opting not to change their outlook for 24 percent growth in Opsumit sales from 2015 to 2018.
That is, in part, because they already expected Opsumit to face competition from generic PAH treatments likely to come onto the market later this year or early next, said analyst Olivia Capra.
Opsumit, approved by U.S. regulators in 2013, is Actelion’s follow-on drug to Tracleer, which has lost patent protection. Opsumit made 378 million Swiss francs ($390.2 million) in sales in the first half of the year, up 76 percent.
Actelion is banking on Opsumit and another newer PAH drug, Uptravi, to help offset falling Tracleer sales.