(Reuters) – CVS Health Corp said on Wednesday its pharmacy benefit management (PBM) unit is launching a new program, under which employers and insurers will be able to offer diabetes drugs, including insulin, at no out-of-pocket costs to their members.
The company said the program would not raise costs for health insurers and employers, and eliminating out-of-pocket costs would ensure better adherence by diabetic patients to their drug regimens.
PBMs act as middlemen in the drug supply chain who negotiate prices for employers and health insurers.
The rising prices of prescription drugs, especially insulin, have come under intense scrutiny and is a top issue for politicians on both sides of the aisle as the U.S. presidential election draws closer.
The cost of insulin, a life-sustaining medicine for patients with type 1 diabetes, nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, leading to a national outcry as reports emerged of risky rationing of the medicine among patients.
CVS said an analysis showed that members taking branded diabetes drugs spend $467.24 in out-of-pocket costs per year.
Drugmakers such as Eli Lilly and Co, Sanofi SA and Novo Nordisk have recently been making some of their insulin products available at lower costs to counter heavy criticism from lawmakers and patients.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)