(Bloomberg) — Gilead Sciences Inc. agreed to make its hepatitis C medicines the exclusive treatments for CVS Health Corp. customers, intensifying a drug-industry rivalry to win patients for the $1,000-a-day medicines.
Gilead’s Harvoni and Sovaldi will be the only pills covered on CVS’s main list of drugs, as well as on its list for health plans through Obamacare, Medicare Part D and Medicaid, the benefits manager said today in an e-mail.
The deal blocks AbbVie Inc.’s treatment, called Viekira Pak, which will only be available to patients given approval because of medical exceptions or through a process called prior authorization, according to CVS. Patients already taking Viekira Pak will be allowed to finish their treatment.
“Our goal was to create the lowest net-cost solution for the entire population of patients with all genotypes of hepatitis C,” CVS said. The company didn’t say whether it got a special price for Gilead’s drugs, and a spokeswoman for Gilead wouldn’t comment on details of the agreement.
The agreement with CVS helps Gilead recover after AbbVie struck its own deal with Express Scripts Holding Co., the biggest U.S. drug-benefits manager, which chose last month to favor Viekira Pak for most U.S. patients. AbbVie offered an unspecified discount to Express Scripts, to the dismay of biotech investors who have bet on the industry’s ability to maintain high prices.
Express Scripts has about 30 percent to 33 percent of the U.S. pharmacy benefits management market, and CVS 27 percent to 30 percent, according to Robyn Karnauskas, an analyst with Deutsche Bank.
It’s not over