CVS Health Research Institute Provides First Look at Rapid Uptake of New Hepatitis C Treatments and an Expanding Population of Treated Patients


The CVS Health Research Institute today released a first look at the comparative utilization of two new hepatitis C treatments in the weeks following their respective launches. The analysis shows an increase in the number of eligible hepatitis C patients being treated following the October launch of Harvoni®, the newest hepatitis C treatment.


WOONSOCKET, R.I., (December 18, 2014) — The CVS Health Research Institute today released a first look at the comparative utilization of two new hepatitis C treatments in the weeks following their respective launches. The analysis shows an increase in the number of eligible hepatitis C patients being treated following the October launch of Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), the newest hepatitis C treatment. Uptake for Harvoni is approximately 2.5 times the rate of Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) prescribing during the weeks following Sovaldi’s launch in December 2013. In addition, the data shows there has been minimal reduction in Sovaldi use following the launch of Harvoni, suggesting an expansion in the pool of patients being treated, rather than Harvoni being used as a substitute for Sovaldi.

“The high price of these new hepatitis C treatments and the expanding pool of patients receiving treatment signal a growing and costly trend in treating chronic medical conditions with specialty medicines,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health who co-authored the report. “Hepatitis C is just the beginning, and we need to prepare now for the time when large numbers of patients could be treated effectively with high-cost medicines for a variety of common and more complex conditions.”

The report analyzes de-identified CVS/caremark data and compares Harvoni prescriptions to Sovaldi prescriptions during the eight weeks post-launch for each treatment. Data shows that the number of Harvoni prescriptions (>7,500) were approximately 2.5 times higher than Sovaldi prescriptions (>3,000) during the post-launch period for each drug. Moreover, the authors find that Sovaldi use since the introduction of Harvoni has only declined modestly. The new data suggests that the number of eligible patients being treated for hepatitis C is expanding overall with each therapy continuing at high utilization rates.

“As new therapies enter the market, particularly in categories such as hepatitis C where treatment costs are high, CVS Health is focusing on strategies to control costs while improving patient health outcomes,” said Alan Lotvin, M.D., executive vice president of CVS/specialty at CVS Health. “These will include utilization management and formulary approaches to ensure the most cost-effective, clinically appropriate therapy. We also provide comprehensive, patient-centered support to maximize the successful completion of therapy.”

With the ongoing impact of expensive specialty medications on payers’ budgets, CVS/caremark and the company’s specialty pharmacy have activated a number of tools to manage cost while ensuring patient health outcomes. For hepatitis C therapy, CVS/caremark coordinates utilization management and prior authorization strategies to drive evidence-based decision-making. These tools help identify patients who will best respond to therapy in order to optimize efficacy and reduce unnecessary costs. In addition, thoughtful formulary placement plays an important role. As new and equally effective treatments from other manufacturers are expected to enter the market shortly, aggressive negotiation on price combined with the development of formulary tiers or exclusions can help manage costs for payers.

CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy also provides patient-centered care through our Specialty CareTeams. These CareTeams include clinicians with disease-specific expertise along with embedded disease management nurses who address the patient’s overall condition, including co-morbidities, lifestyle concerns and counseling on any non-specialty prescriptions the patient is using. CVS Health also makes it easier for patients to start on therapy with Specialty Connect, a program that allows patients who present specialty prescriptions at any CVS/pharmacy store to receive centralized benefit guidance and CareTeam support from CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

For more detail on the data, please visit the following link:

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through our 7,800 retail pharmacies, more than 900 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 65 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, we enable people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at


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