Horizon to fork over $65M to settle Express Scripts rebate clash

Horizon and Express Scripts are putting aside their differences. Well, at least some of them.

The Dublin drugmaker has struck a settlement agreement with the PBM giant to lay to rest claims the pharma breached a rebate agreement. And as part of the pact, Horizon is forking over $65 million to Express Scripts.

Horizon will hand that over in installments, with half of it going to Express Scripts in this year’s fourth quarter, 25% in the first quarter of next year and 25% in next year’s Q2, the company said in a Thursday regulatory filing.

The legal wrangling started last November, when Express Scripts sued Horizon for breach of contract--and demanded $166.2 million in rebates relating to Horizon meds Duexis, Vimovo and Rayos. But Horizon countered, pointing the finger instead at Express Scripts for breaching the agreement and contesting the $166.2 million sum.

And while that may now all be in the rearview mirror, the settlement doesn’t necessarily mean that all is rosy between the two parties.

Express Scripts last year cut off Linden Care, a specialty pharmacy that worked closely with the Irish pharma. Express Scripts made the move after finding that Linden Care "predominantly dispensed Horizon prescription drugs and did not fulfill key components of our pharmacy network agreements," a company spokesman told FiercePharma last November.

Horizon, for its part, dismissed "the notion that Linden Care is a so-called 'captive pharmacy' of Horizon Pharma," calling it "entirely false” in a statement at the time.

Express Scripts froze out Linden Care as part of a widening crackdown on specialty pharmacies, which drugmakers--Horizon among them--have used to help ease the burn of PBMs’ formulary exclusions. In July, 2014, Express Scripts and main rival CVS kicked Duexis and Vimovo off their formularies, and Horizon predicted in response that pushing prescriptions through its specialty pharmacy program would “mitigate the effects” of those decisions.

Since then, though, the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to take a closer look at the practice. Earlier this year, Horizon disclosed that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York--the same office that had already launched an investigation into embattled Valeant's patient assistance programs and controversial relationship with now-nixed specialty pharmacy Philidor--was probing Horizon's financial support to patients and its alleged ties to specialty pharmacies.

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