Express Scripts drops Zohydro, brings back Advair

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Express Scripts unveiled its formulary exclusions for 2015 over the weekend. Amgen anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen as well as controversial painkiller Zohydro ER were removed, along with 23 other new drugs, while GlaxoSmithKline inhaled lung medication Advair made a return to its formulary.

According to a note from Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan, the PBM's Advair addition “likely comes at a price.”

According to Divan, GSK CEO Andrew Whitty may have deliberately lowered the price to maintain volume as the British company attempts to “drive switches to its novel asthma/COPD portfolio,” which includes recently approved respiratory meds Anoro Ellipta and Breo Ellipta.

In the popular HCV category, Vertex's Incivek was removed in favor of Merck's Victrelis and J&J's Olysio. Express Scripts is still in a holding pattern over direct-acting antivirals such as Sovaldi, saying it will evaluate whether the drug will be covered on a case-by-case basis. The PBM could be waiting to see whether competitor AbbVie's three-drug HCV regimen is approved, which could give it more leverage to negotiate a lower price.

The move to exclude Zogenix pain pill Zohydro follows last month's news that a potential tamper-resistant opioid pain drug being developed by Purdue received priority review from the FDA.​

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