(Bloomberg) — The Oxford unit at UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), which runs health plans in the northeastern United States, will favor Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s new cholesterol-cutting shot over a similar treatment made by Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq:AMGN).
Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and Regeneron (Nasdaq:REGN) make the injectable cholesterol treatment Praluent.
Oxford covers about 1.2 million people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its patients will have to take Praluent for 12 weeks without sufficient effect or have a history of not being able to tolerate the drug before the insurer will cover Amgen’s drug Repatha, the company said in an update posted online. The policy takes effect on Jan. 1.
It’s the latest move by a health insurer or pharmacy benefit manager to limit access to the cholesterol treatments, called PCSK9 inhibitors, that have a list price of about $14,000 a year. CVS Health Corp. (NYSE:CVS) last month signed an exclusive deal with Amgen to cover its drug. By picking one drug over another, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers can gain better prices.