Insurer to stop paying for Nexium

Health insurer UnitedHealth Group said it has decided to stop paying for AstraZeneca’s Nexium because equally effective proton pump inhibitor (PPI) treatments are available to patients. United Health, the second largest health insurer in the US, said the move will save them about $150 million – a figure that is roughly half the amount it spends on all PPIs, according to published reports. The move went into effect this month for a majority of UnitedHealth’s plans. All of the firm’s plans will follow suit by the beginning of next year. David Albaugh, a spokesman for AstraZeneca, told the Associated Press the drugmaker was disappointed with UnitedHealth’s decision but was not adjusting the sales projections on its biggest-selling product. Nexium had global sales of approximately $4.6 billion in 2005. Jason Napodano, a drug industry analyst at Zach’s Independent Research, told the AP the news was not good for AstraZeneca, but that he did not think it would have a major impact on sales.