CivicaScript, a unit of hospital-owned nonprofit drug company Civica Rx, has launched its first low-cost generic drug available in the outpatient pharmacy setting: abiraterone acetate (brand name Zytiga) used to treat metastatic prostate cancer. The company will sell abiraterone to pharmacies at $160 for one month’s supply and recommends selling it to patients for no more than $171, a 6.9% mark-up.
Patients with Medicare Part D—the most likely payor for medications treating this type of cancer—pay about $3,000 per month for abiraterone on average, CivicaScript says. A generic version was first released in 2018 but lacks sufficient market competition to make it affordable for most patients.
Civica Rx co-founded CivicaScript in 2020 with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and 18 locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies “to bring affordable versions of common but high-priced generic medicines to market,” at outpatient pharmacies, according to its Aug. 2 news release about the abiraterone launch.
Civica Rx was founded in 2018 by three philanthropies and seven health systems, six of which contain multiple 340B hospitals (CommonSpirit Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, Providence St. Joseph Health, SSM Health, and Trinity Health). Their goal was to address chronic hospital shortages of essential generic inpatient medications and accompanying price spikes, says Debbi Ford, the Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer at Civica Rx. The company has since provided about 60 different injectable medications to its healthcare members, which include at least 55 health systems, 1,500 hospitals, and one third of all licensed hospital beds.
CivicaScript initially plans to offer six to 10 common but high-priced generic medications for purchase by outpatient pharmacies, targeting “both specialty and traditional generics where there is greatest opportunity to substantially reduce prices for patients,” its press release says. Abiraterone was chosen “based on its high list price from other manufacturers and significant patient need for the product,” says Ford.
Abiraterone will initially be available through mail order and specialty pharmacies affiliated with Intermountain Healthcare, a 24-hospital system based in Salt Lake City, and Lumicera Health Services, a specialty pharmacy based in Madison, Wis. New pharmacies will be added as they come on board, Ford says, and the medication is available to anyone, regardless of insurance status.
Civica Rx currently partners with various manufacturers worldwide to make its products. The company plans to begin manufacturing its own low-priced generics in the future and is currently building a plant in Petersburg, Va, 23 miles south of the state capitol Richmond. The company has its sights set on producing insulin,specifically the glargine, lispro, and aspart varieties—generic forms of Lantus, Humalog, and Novolog, respectively—which it expects to have available for purchase in 2024 at a retail price of $30 per vial.