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October 24, 2018

News about Pharmacy Corner

Introducing Pharmacy Corner

We’re pleased to introduce Pharmacy Corner, a new monthly section of Edge dedicated to interesting and timely topics related to our pharmacy capabilities and solutions. Each month, we’ll showcase exciting news and developments, including pharmacy programs, clinical management updates, pipeline drugs, specialty medications, and benefit changes. Pharmacy Corner will also feature marketing and sales collateral focused on how to promote and sell our pharmacy solutions.

We hope you find this first edition of Pharmacy Corner informative and enlightening, and please let us know if there are topics you want to see included. Look for the Pharmacy Corner icon each month to read the latest edition.

More relief for migraine sufferers: New drug class approved by FDA

Migraine is a chronic condition characterized by episodic attacks of disabling headaches that can cause pain, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, or vomiting.1 Migraines are all too common, affecting approximately 17 percent of women and 6 percent of men and lasting anywhere from hours to days.2

Several studies have suggested that migraines have a negative impact on worker productivity and quality of life, costing billions each year in lost productive time.3

Treatment options for migraines: Abortive and prophylactic

Migraine sufferers depend on one of two kinds of therapy used to treat their migraines:

Abortive: Stopping the migraine once it starts (e.g., with an anti-inflammatory)
Prophylactic: Preventive, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches

Prophylactic treatment is considered for those who suffer from migraines often. Until recently, options have included classes of drugs used to treat seizures, depression, and high blood pressure, and even Botox® (onabotulinumtoxin A) in select patients.1,2,4

A new drug class for prophylactic therapy

Fortunately, the FDA recently approved three new prophylactic medications — Aimovig, Ajovy, and Emgality — that form a new drug class called CGRP inhibitors. CGRP inhibitors help prevent migraines in a new way by targeting calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a substance found in neurons in certain areas of the brain. In migraines, it is thought that CGRP is released from the nerve associated with feelings of pain in the head and face, causing headaches and other migraine symptoms.1,2,5

CGRP inhibitors are administered by injection and require infrequent dosing (typically monthly). In clinical trials, all three CGRP inhibitor drugs have shown a greater reduction in average number of migraine days when compared to placebo in patients with four or more migraine days per month.5

How Independence will cover CGRP inhibitors

CGRP inhibitors will be covered under all commercial and Medicare Advantage lines of business under the prescription drug benefit and included on all formularies. All three medications require prior authorization to ensure the member is at least 18 years old, has the appropriate diagnosis, and has tried other prophylactic medication options first.

1 Cutrer FM, Bajwa ZH. Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of migraines in adults. November 2017. Accessed October 2, 2018.
2 Bajwa ZH, Smith JH. Preventive treatment of migraine in adults. August 2018. Accessed October 2, 2018.
3 Burton, WN, Landy, SH, Downs, KE, Runken, MC. The Impact of Migraine and the Effect of Migraine Treatment on Workplace Productivity in the United States and Suggestions for Future Research. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 May; 84(5): 436–445.
4 Silberstien, SD, Holland, S, Freitag, F, Dodick, DW, Argoff, C, Ashman, E. Evidence based guideline update: pharmacologic treatment for episodic migraine prevention in adults. Neurology.2012;78:1337-45.
5 Edvinsson, L. The CGRP Pathway in Migraine as a Viable Target for Therapies. Headache 2018;58: 33-47.

New fully sustainable medication packaging helps FutureScripts® targets costs, carbon footprint

Many medications, including specialty prescriptions, must be kept within strict temperature ranges. During home delivery, companies often use polystyrene — also known as foam — to ensure the medications arrive safely and that the quality is intact.

OptumRx, parent company of our independent pharmacy benefits manager FutureScripts, is the first major pharmacy care services company to introduce fully sustainable medication packaging that replaces foam. The new packaging delivers temperature-sensitive specialty and maintenance prescriptions safely to members’ homes.

Reducing our carbon footprint

Eliminating the foam commonly used in medication home delivery is part of OptumRx’s effort to ensure all packaging used in home delivery is recyclable. The new packaging is made from 100 percent renewable cotton and is biodegradable, compostable, reusable, and recyclable.

OptumRx projects that using the new packaging to deliver approximately 4 million prescriptions each year will result in an annual savings of:

Nearly 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide
17 million gallons of water
4 million kilowatt hours of energy

Medication home delivery is a convenient, safe, and cost-effective way for FutureScripts to get our members the medications they need. And now FutureScripts can do so in a way that reduces the environmental footprint of its medication home delivery services.            

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