Trending News Today: Express Scripts Favors Mylan's EpiPen, Excludes Alternatives

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

California monthly premiums for health insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act will rise by an average of 12.5% next year, according to The New York Times. On Tuesday, state officials said it is the second consecutive year of double-digit rate increases. As uncertainty surrounds the future of the US health care system and threats to cut subsidies linger, officials said premiums for consumers on silver tier plans could spike even higher. The average 12.5% increase is slightly lower compared with last year’s premium rates of more than 13%, the NY Times reported. It will be possible for consumers to lower the increase to approximately 3% by switching to the lowest-priced plans, but it would require them to switch physicians. California insurance plans for next year will be available for purchase between November 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017.

The once prosperous blood-testing company, Theranos Inc, continues to make headlines. This time by settling a lawsuit filed by Walgreens regarding blood tests. According to the Los Angeles Times, the California-based company developed a novel testing technology that required only droplets of blood from a finger pick, priced at costs below commercial-lab prices. Walgreens soon entered into a partnership with Theranos to make the test available at 40 Walgreens stores in Arizona and 1 in Palo Alto; however, in late 2015 questions surrounding the tests’ accuracy began to build. Furthermore, the company was found to be out of compliance with certain federal lab requirements, the LA Times reported. Walgreens terminated the partnerships with Theranos and filed the lawsuit in November alleging a breach of contract. According to the LA Times, the terms of settlements were not disclosed, but Theranos said there was no finding or implication of liability and the lawsuit will be dismissed. Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive and founder of Theranos, was banned a year ago from owning or running a medical lab for 2 years. In October, the company shut down its lab and laid off more than 40% of its workforce.

Express Scripts Holding Co announced on Monday it would favor Mylan’s versions of the EpiPen over the allergy auto-injectors of other companies, Reuters reported. This includes alternatives to the auto-injector manufactured by Impax Laboratories Inc. Since 2014, the pharmacy benefit manager has excluded certain medications from its formulary list, citing costs concerns. Express Scripts said it has been better able to negotiate lower prices from drugmakers since excluding drugs from its formulary list, and it will save customers an estimated $2.5 billion in 2018.