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A $14,000 Cholesterol Drug Is Getting A 69% Price Cut

May 1, 2018, 5:54 PM UTC

Regeneron and Sanofi will slash the price of their cholesterol medicine Praluent by as much as 69% in a deal with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts that aims to increase use of the drug.

Praluent is a class of medications known as PCSK9 inhibitors that were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in July 2015 for use by patients with a family history of high cholesterol or those who suffered high-cholesterol-induced heart attacks. The drug will now cost between $4,500 to $8,000 a year, a dramatic reduction from the $14,600 that the medicine was priced at in 2015. The price reduction is a rebate. That target price range is based on recommendations in March by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.

In exchange for the price reduction, Praluent will become the exclusive PCSK9 inhibitor therapy drug of Express Scripts’ National Preferred Formulary Plan, which has 25 million members. The agreement simplifies the process for patients, specifically the documentation required to secure insurance coverage, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. In the past, patients had to go through a lengthy process that included submitting laboratory results and detailed patient histories in order to get insurance coverage.

Earlier this year, Sanofi and Regneron said they would be willing to cut the price of the drug, if insurers would agree to lessen burdensome access barriers for high-risk patients.

Praluent and a competing drug called Repatha made by Amgen has shown prowess in reducing LDL-C, or “bad” cholesterol, by as much as 60% in clinical trials. The treatment potentially decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke and is considered more effective than other cholesterol-lowering medications, ezetimibe and statin.

However, use of the new treatment class has been more muted due to the list price of the medicine.

“This paradigm-shifting agreement is designed to break the gridlock so that Praluent is finally able to reach patients most in need,” Regeneron CEO Leonard S. Schleifer said in a statement. “U.S. cardiologists have experienced unprecedented challenges in securing access for Praluent for patients who were clearly appropriate, but were denied coverage. This agreement sets a new standard in industry and payer collaboration that we hope will serve as a model for how to make innovative medicines more accessible and affordable.”

The agreement takes effect July 1 for commercial patients covered by Express Scripts.

There is one loser in this deal. The agreement shuts out competitor Amgen’s drug Repatha. Shares of Amgen fell as much as 2.9% Tuesday morning to $169.40.