Diplomat taking measures to bring affordable brand medications


Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. plans to combat rising healthcare costs throughout 2018 by advancing generic drugs, biosimilars, and affordable brand medications.

Joel Saban, president of Diplomat, said the growing market for high-cost specialty drugs in the U.S. drives up costs for health plans and patients.

“With 90 percent of traditional medications now filled as generics, specialty pharmacy costs are driving pharmacy spend for payers,” Saban said. “To offer real solutions to today’s challenges, we need a new model with a diverse set of assets. The need for specialty benefit management solutions has never been more urgent.”

Saban noted an enhanced split-fill program as an example of Diplomat’s cost-saving measures. In early 2018, the company increased the number of drugs included in the program by 78 percent.

“This program can save up to 50 percent per patient,” Saban said. “We give patients a two-week supply at the start of a new therapy. This allows us to mitigate waste in the event a patient needs to change therapies early on. In avoiding medication waste, we reduce spend for both the payer and patient.”

Diplomat also saves health plans money, Saban said, by providing alternative generic medications. He said approximately $2,400 is saved per month for each patient moved to generic oral oncolytic medication and $1,800 for each patient moved to generic multiple sclerosis medication.

Jeff Park, interim CEO of Diplomat, said the company is also watching the biosimilar market closely for opportunities to help drive prices lower.

“We view biosimilars as a key lever in managing the rising cost of specialty spend,” Park said. “Biosimilars have struggled to gain footing in the U.S. due to litigation. However, we expect the environment to become more favorable soon. This should lead to expanded biosimilar use and more affordable care.”

Diplomat recently published a report on the specialty drug pipeline and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals. According to the report, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research approved 46 novel new drugs in 2017—the most since 1996 and more than double the 2016 total.

“The robust specialty drug pipeline—with new drugs and expanded indications for previously approved treatments—continues to drive industry growth,” Saban said. “One of Diplomat’s core strengths is staying ahead of the specialty pipeline curve. We start building relationships with innovative new companies years before product launch. This is important in continuing
to increase our access to limited-distribution drugs.”

Saban said Diplomat remains dedicated to improving patient experiences and outcomes across the continuum of care.

“We want to make sure patients receive the most effective treatment at a price they can afford,” Saban said. “Reviewing new generics and biosimilar products—incorporating cost-saving strategies as appropriate—these steps bring Diplomat closer to meeting these urgent needs.”

To learn more about Diplomat, visit diplomat.is.