Novartis wins Medicaid approval for new sickle cell drug in key U.S. states - (Yahoo!Finance via NewsPoints Desk)

  • According to Ameet Mallik, who heads Novartis' oncology division, the Swiss drugmaker has obtained Medicaid coverage in Florida and Alabama for the sickle cell disease therapy Adakveo, as reported in Yahoo!Finance.

  • Adakveo, an injectable biologic treatment that can cost up to $1113,000 per year excluding discounts, and Global Blood Therapeutic's (GBT) sickle cell disease drug Oxbryta, a once-daily pill that carries an annual list price of $125,000, were both approved by the FDA in November. 

  • Florida cleared the Novartis drug with a requirement that patients receive prior authorization from their physician, Mallik said, but Alabama approved it without restrictions.

  • GBT spokesman Steven Immergut stated that some health plans, including private insurers as well as Medicaid and Medicare, have started covering Oxbryta on a case-by-case basis. Analysts at Cowen & Co. forecast peak annual Oxbryta sales reaching $1.7 billion in the US.

  • "We have been meeting with both government and commercial payers for several months...initially educating about sickle haemoglobin polymerization and, more recently, about Oxbryta," Immergut said.

  • Meanwhile, Novartis' CAR-T therapy Kymriah, which costs as much as $475,000, is still not covered by Medicaid in every state despite having been approved two years ago, Mallik added.

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