Weekly Rx Roundup for July 10, 2023

Your weekly independent pharmacy news update

Preparing for this fall’s tripledemic

To prevent a repeat of last winter’s “tripledemic” of respiratory illnesses, Americans will be encouraged to roll up their sleeves not just for flu shots but for two other vaccines, one of them entirely new.

The three shots — flu, Covid and R.S.V. — may help to reduce hospitalizations and deaths later this year. But there are uncertainties about how the vaccines are best administered, who is most likely to benefit, and what the risks may be.

For older and immunocompromised Americans, all three vaccines are vital. Yet it’s unclear how many Americans will opt for the shots. 71% of adults ages 65 and older got a flu shot this past winter, but only about 43% chose to get the Covid booster.

The misery of the past winter may help change minds. The flu may have led to as many as 58,000 deaths, peaking in December, according to the C.D.C. Covid claimed roughly 50,000 lives between November and March.

R.S.V. kills up to 10,000 people each year, most of them older. Infections this year peaked in November and resulted in about twice as many hospitalizations, including children, as in prepandemic years.

Only the Covid and flu vaccines were available last fall. The R.S.V. vaccines for adults are new, and in clinical trials proved to be highly effective against infection of the lower respiratory tract, which includes the lungs.

FDA approves Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi

The Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Alzheimer’s treatment Leqembi, which will expand access to the expensive drug for older Americans.

Medicare announced shortly after the FDA approval that it is now covering the antibody treatment for patients enrolled in the insurance program for seniors, though several conditions apply.

Leqembi is the first Alzheimer’s antibody treatment to receive full FDA approval. It is also the first such drug to receive broad coverage through Medicare. Read more.

Five Adalimumab biosimilars launched on July 1 in the U.S.

July 1 marked the launch of five different adalimumab (Humira) biosimilars, setting off the first round of therapeutic alternatives into the market, including adalimumab-abdm (Cyltezo), adalimumab-aqvh (Yusimry), adalimumab-bwwd (Hadlima), adalimumab-adaz (Hyrimoz), and adalimumab-fkjp (Hulio). These medications join adalimumab-atto (Amjevita), the first adalimumab biosimilar that launched earlier this year.1 Read more at Drug Topics.

CMS issues revised guidance to Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program

CMS recently issued revised guidance to Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program. CMS noted that the majority of the comments received from supply chain entities on this topic, including manufacturers and pharmacies, supported the use of a standardized, published pricing metric to calculate the refund due from the manufacturer to the pharmacy for the pass through of the maximum fair price as required under the program. Read more.

Categorized as Updates