Express Scripts said Monday it has made AbbVie’s Viekira Pak the only covered option for members with genotype 1 hep. C, giving the just-approved regimen which is going up against next-gen. hep. C remedies from Gilead and Janssen an immediate boost in the form of exclusive formulary access among the PBM’s 25 million covered lives. The benefits manager negotiated a discount with AbbVie off the $83,000 announced price on the four-drug combo, for which AbbVie gained FDA approval Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. Express Scripts said it will exclude Gilead’s Sovaldi and Harvoni, as well as J&J hep. C drug Olysio, with all formulary decisions going into effect Jan 1.  Viekira Pak is approved only for treating genotye 1, the most common form of the virus accounting for about 75% of HCV cases. MM&M is tracking this story.

Right on the heels of EU approval of AstraZeneca’s Lynparza (olaparib), FDA has approved the  first-in-class PARP inhibitor as a new treatment for women with  advanced ovarian cancer. The drug was approved along with a genetic test that checks for abnormalities in the BRCA gene for identifying people most likely to get the cancer. AZ has named oncology services company Biologics as the exclusive distributor for the drug.


Merck is reaping its first reward from Cubist Pharma’s antibiotic pipeline with the FDA’s approval of super-bug fighter Zerbaxa. Zerbaxa (ceftolozane/tazobactam) targets gram-negative bacteria in treating complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections. It’s the second approved antibiotic this year for Cubist after Sivextro (tedizolid), a treatment for skin infections. Merck, which announced its intention to acquire Cubist on Dec. 8,expects to close on the $8.4-billion buy in the first quarter.


The first influenza treatment approved  by FDA in 15 years is coming to market, regulators announced. The agency has approved Biocryst Pharma’s single-dose intravenous flu drug Rapivab (peramivir injection). Designed for use in the hospital setting, it provides an alternative for patients who can’t swallow Gilead’s Tamiflu pill or inhale GSK’s Relenza, Reuters reports.


Actavis is eyeing Spanish drug company Almirall as a possible takeover target, Bloomberg News reports.  A potential bolt-on buy for Actavis, Almirall, valued at $3.7 billion, is the maker of the Actikerall skin treatments and MS drug Sativex.