Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit management company, saysit has a plan to deal with high drug prices.

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Chief Medical Officer Steve Miller says the company is puttingin place new programs aimed at shielding its customers, includingindividuals and insurers, from rapidly rising medicine prices.

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The idea is for the company to quickly shift customers away froma drug whose price has just been hiked to a cheaper alternative, heexplained. In the past, changing prescriptions has been a lengthyprocess, but the new plan aims to make such changesimmediately.

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Express Scripts has already taken a stand against particularlybig price hikes in the past year. When Turing Pharmaceuticals, thecompany headed by controversial investor Martin Shkreli, raised theprice of a drug that many HIV patients rely on by more than 5,000percent, Express Scripts shifted its customers to a cheaperalternative.

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The company similarly stopped approving purchases of Glumetza, adiabetes drug whose price was raised more than 800 percent byValeant Pharmaceuticals, another company that has become notoriousfor price hikes.

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Miller also voiced optimism about new drugs coming out fordermatitis and diabetes that could offer a lower-cost alternativeto the status quo. For instance, a new drug by Regeneron isexpected to come out this year that promises to treat cases ofsevere psoriasis that have been resistant to other drugs. Themedication will no doubt be expensive, which is why Express Scriptshopes to make clear to doctors to only prescribe the drug to thosewho truly require it, rather than one of the more commonmedications.

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The goal, he said, is to “send a message to the marketplace”that price hikes will have consequences.

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In addition, Miller said that the company will begin pricingcancer drugs based on their performance in clinical studies. Nextyear, other types of drugs, including those for arthritis, might bebrought under a similar scheme, he said.

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