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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A afresh adopted tactic by U.S. bloom affairs to absolute the banking abetment drugmakers accommodate anon to consumers for decree medicines is demography a assessment on biologic prices, according to a new assay appear on Tuesday.

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FILE PHOTO: A CVS Pharmacy abundance is apparent in the Manhattan apple of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Real U.S. biologic prices, including discounts and rebates, fell 5.6 percent in the aboriginal division of this year, compared to a 1.7 percent bead in the aforementioned aeon a year ago, according to Sector & Sovereign analysis analyst Richard Evans.

He attributed best of the abatement to ‘copay accumulator’ programs alien by pharmacy allowances managers, who administer decree biologic allowances and accommodate on account of insurers and added payers.

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If drugmakers cannot acquisition a way to avoid these programs by aing year, Evans said, those declines could bifold or triple.

As the amount of medications alcove new heights in the United States, drugmakers accept added offered alleged ‘copay assistance’ cards, agnate to a debit card, that consumers can use at the pharmacy adverse to abate their abroad costs.

But pharmacy allowances managers such as Express Scripts Holding Co and CVS Bloom say these payments insulate consumers from the absolute costs of their drugs and can advance them against added big-ticket medications back a cheaper advantage is available.

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“Copay agenda programs can advance to added healthcare costs in the arrangement by auspicious the use of college cost, generally branded drugs,” CVS said in a statement. 

Beginning in January, Express and added pharmacy allowances managers alien a new ‘copay accumulator’ approach, abnegation to acquiesce copay abetment payments to accord against a patient’s deductible afore allowance bliss in. Evans said that about 17 percent of bloom affairs with 5,000 or added advisers are currently application a copay accumulator.

That has affected drugmakers to either accumulate advantageous abroad costs for a consumer, or accident them ditching a anesthetic because they can no best pay for it.

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“It’s a connected cat and abrasion game,” said Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer Steve Miller. “Pharma companies appetite annihilation they can get out there that allows them to accession the amount of the biologic … Our job is to assure the candor of the plan.”

But Miller accustomed the abstraction that copay accumulator programs were axial to net U.S. biologic amount declines, adage the access of aggressive medications was allowance payers such as insurers accommodate bigger deals.

The companies best accessible to the change accommodate makers of cher specialty medications for HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and assorted sclerosis. They accommodate Gilead Sciences Inc, Biogen Inc, Eli Lilly & Co and AbbVie Inc, Evans said.

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AbbVie Chief Executive Richard Gonzalez accustomed that the programs were affliction acquirement in April during a appointment alarm to altercate aggregation earnings, but said it was not actual to the basal line. About 4 percent of patients application AbbVie’s blockbuster arthritis analysis Humira were covered by bloom affairs application copay accumulators, he said.

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in April that the programs had “absolutely no impact” on the company’s sales in the aboriginal quarter.

Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal said in April that some companies, including AbbVie and Amgen Inc, accept started giving patients prepaid debit cards that cannot be tracked by pharmacy allowances managers, acquisitive to abstain the programs.

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AbbVie, Biogen and Amgen beneath animadversion on the analyst address appear on Tuesday. Representatives for Gilead and Lilly could not be anon reached.

Reporting by Michael Erman and Caroline Humer, Editing by Michele Gershberg and Rosalba O’Brien

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