CVS Caremark to kick AbbVie's Humira off some formularies in favor of cheaper biosimilars

This year, CVS Health plans to employ the classic "out with the old, in with the new" mantra when it comes to AbbVie’s Humira.

Come April 1, the branded drug will be replaced by cheaper biosimilars across the company’s major commercial formularies nationwide.

The move is part of CVS Caremark’s efforts to expand the adoption of biosimilars. As it stands, the U.S. biosimilar market is expected to grow from less than $10 billion in 2022 to more than $100 billion by 2029, CVS Caremark cited in a recent press release.

The company is “committed” to ramping up adoption of the cheaper biologic drugs and enabling customer choice, CVS Health’s executive vice president and president of CVS Caremark David Joyner noted in a statement.

“By preferring biosimilars that have a significantly lower list price than their reference product, CVS Caremark is putting our customers in the driver's seat to best meet the health care needs of their members and lower drug costs,” Joyner said.

CVS Caremark projects the change to save its clients more than 50% on the med this year compared to 2022 when branded Humira was the only option.

Still, branded Humira maker AbbVie isn’t completely left out of the picture. The company has inked an agreement to supply CVS Health’s biosimilar business Cordavis with a “committed volume” of co-branded Humira, which will become available during this year’s second quarter.

Cordavis launched in August to commercialize or co-produce a portfolio of biosimilars as a “logical evolution” for CVS Health, chief financial officer Shawn Guertin said at the time.

One drug in the company's partnered portfolio is Sandoz’ Humira copycat, Hyrimoz, which will be marketed over 2024’s first quarter under a Cordavis label and at a price point more than 80% lower than Humira’s list price.

Hyrimoz and another unbranded Humira version from Sandoz will be covered across all CVS formularies while branded and unbranded versions from India’s Biocon will be covered on some reimbursement lists, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, the original superstar drug will still be an option through certain choice and opt-out commercial plans. Patients will receive 60 days’ notice of the change but won’t need a new authorization to transition to the new product.

The Humira biosimilar floodgates opened at the start of last year with Amgen’s Amjevita, followed by different versions from Boehringer Ingelheim, Biocon and Sandoz, among others. So far, prescribers have “not wholly warmed” to the newcomers, according to a September analysis from Spherix Global Insights.

Humira pulled $21 billion in global revenues in 2022. With sales expected to dip some 37% over 2023, AbbVie has shifted focus to other immunology growth drivers such as Rinvoq and Skyrizi.