Generic cancer drug drove $3M in savings for Highmark

A generic medication from CivicaScript saved Highmark members $90 per month on average and generated $3 million in savings for the plan, members and group customers, the insurer said in a May 29 news release. 

Highmark is a founding member of CivicaScript, a nonprofit generic drug manufacturer. The organization was founded in 2020 and includes several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans among its members. 

CivicaScript's first generic drug, abiraterone acetate, became available for Highmark members in 2023. The drug treats prostate cancer. 

"We saw really significant cost savings here, which I think is really a testament to what CivicaScript is doing and their philosophy around bringing the value direct back to the patient, direct back to the end member," Corey DeLuca, PharmD, vice president of clinical and specialty pharmacy services at Highmark, told Becker's. 

"I think we're very philosophically aligned with that too. We wanted the value passed directly back to the member, and directly back to our group customers, who are buying health insurance for their employee base." 

Because the drug is generic, it can be substituted for higher-cost versions at the point of sale by the dispensing pharmacist. The result is a fairly seamless experience for patients, Dr. DeLuca said. 

"That was really helpful in making this successful in that it did not require any sort of upfront administrative burden to talk with a physician and approve that transition," she said. 

In 2022, CivicaScript said it planned to launch six to 10 generic specialty drugs over the proceeding few years. 

"I think the portofolio ramp up is certainly something that CivicaScript is focusing on," Dr. DeLuca said. "The contributing member plans, like Highmark, are very much supporting to help guide what medications could provide the most value for our members, for patients, and focus the research and development efforts around that." 

Dr. DeLuca said new generics from CivicaScript could be available as early as 2025. 

"The goal is to build out a pretty robust pipeline of medications that are going to provide the most value and the most opportunity for cost savings to patients and members," she said. "So we are really excited to have more than just one medication on the market and definitely expect to have additional ones available to members in 2025 and beyond." 

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