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We do our best to deliver a wide variety of interesting and informative articles on the sprawling pharmacy benefits world. As the year draws to a close, we thought this would be a fast and fun way to let our readers take one more look at some of our most striking or important topics – maybe there’s one you missed?

1.    Opioid Misuse and Abuse

OptumRx is committed to confronting the epidemic of opioid abuse. As we prepare to launch our comprehensive opioid management approach, you can arm yourself with two detailed background pieces we published this year:

Origins of the opioid epidemic

Prescription opioids have high abuse potential and can lead to life-threatening adverse events when taken in excess or in combination with other drugs.

Counting the cost of opioid abuse

Graphic showing annual societal costs of opioid abuse, dependence and misuse in the U.S. in 2007


2.    Biologics and Biosimilars

The rise of biologically engineered medicines is rapidly transforming the medical landscape. New treatments are coming nearly every day, some of which promise to end specific diseases forever and help control many others. But, they come at a tremendous cost.

In 2016 we published extensively on biologics and on the as-yet unfulfilled promise of their cheaper alternatives, called biosimilars. If you missed these, now is your chance to get up-to-speed on the seemingly endless promise of this vast, complex field.

The biotechnology drug revolution

While only about 20% of the drugs currently on the market today are biologics, worldwide sales of biologics are expected to grow to nearly half of the top-100 selling drugs in just the next two years.

From biologics to biosimilars

We know what happens when traditional drugs reach the end of their exclusivity period. We compare that process to what we see happening as the first biologic drugs approach the end of their own exclusivity.

Potential pitfalls for biosimilars

Many people are counting on huge cost savings from new biosimilar versions of biologic drugs. However, the process of creating and marketing biosimilar drugs is just now getting underway, and there are serious questions about what will happen next.


3.    Orphan Drugs

Closely related to the biotechnology revolution is the subject of orphan drugs. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to biological medicines in order to target diseases that affect very small numbers of people, but which yield very large profits. There are two articles in this series:

Not so poor: The world of orphan drugs

Orphan drugs are aimed at extremely rare diseases or disorders. Despite their small numbers, many orphan drugs can cost up to $500,000/year per patient, they exert a large and growing impact on drug costs overall.

Coming to grips with $300,000 drugs

Paying for orphan drugs. What tools and strategies are available to ensure that these medications are properly used?

Graphic comparing prices of traditional orphan drugs and biologic orphan drugs


4.    Compound drugs

Restoring trust for compound medications

OptumRx has responded to the high cost and questionable quality standards that mar the compound medication supply chain. Our comprehensive suite of programs is designed to promote high quality standards and efficient use of these medications. Our article describes the background of this problem and reports on our successful strategies for solving it.


5.    HIV

The end of HIV?

We reported earlier this year on how many experts argue that finding an HIV vaccine represents the best long-term hope for breaking the chain of HIV infection and ending AIDS. Just recently it was reported that a new vaccine trial is getting underway that builds upon the very research described in our article. Learn more about this exciting progress in fighting the scourge of HIV. 

Find more valuable pharmacy articles here or contact us directly to learn more about pharmacy care services with OptumRx.