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In this second part of a two-part video series, Briana Contreras, associate editor of MHE caught up with MHE Editorial Advisory Board member David Calabrese, who is market president of Health Plans/PBMs at OptumRx. Calabrese shared his thoughts on the approval of the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, as well as the Biden Administration's interest in putting more generics and biosimilars in the market.
Below is a brief Q&A of the interview with Calabrese that has been edited for clarity.
Q: This month, President Biden issued a directive that touched on a wide range of healthcare issues. The Biden directive seeks to put more generics and biosimilars on the market. Do you have any thoughts on that?
A: I think that's a positive thing. I think anything that helps to promote competition that helps to impact affordability for members, for plan sponsors, is a welcomed endeavor. So, you know, we're fully supportive that we're doing everything possible with our clients to drive value out of generics as they make their way to market and ensure that we're maximizing uptake of those generics wherever possible through things like step therapy and other utilization management edits, benefit designs, that encourage uptake of generic drugs. So as long as it's being managed in a clinically, appropriate high-quality manner, I'm all for it.
And I think it only will benefit the health system as a whole. We're under tremendous pressures right now, much of which is being driven by new entries into the specialty marketplace. That's only going to get more challenging as more and more gene and cell therapies make their way to market. The pharmaceutical industry is largely focused on rare and orphan disease now, so if it's not cell and gene, it's orphan. We know what the price tags are for these products as they make their way to market so we've got to have something to offset that in order to provide a well-rounded benefit and to ensure that the broadest number of patients who are appropriate candidates for these drugs have access to them. That's becoming more and more challenging for a lot of plan sponsors these days.