Exciting things are happening in the world of healthcare: New drugs and treatments are coming to market that can do everything from protect those with peanut allergies to cure blindness.  But as 150 NJBIA members learned Thursday at the Express Scripts/Inside Rx headquarters in Franklin Lakes, those wonders won’t come cheap.

Al DeCarlo, Express Scripts’ director of Clinical Product Analytics – Knowledge Solutions, speaking at NJBIA's Holiday Networking event

Al DeCarlo, Express Scripts’ director of Clinical Product Analytics – Knowledge Solutions, speaking at NJBIA’s Holiday Networking event

Al DeCarlo, Express Scripts’ director of Clinical Product Analytics – Knowledge Solutions, explained the blindness drug is one of the first of a new category of drugs hitting the market using gene therapy. In this case, the drug is injected directly into a blind person’s eyeball, and afterward, that person can see.

The cost: $1 million per injection.

“Gene therapy is life-changing, but it scares me from a financial aspect,” DeCarlo said.

As a pharmaceutical benefits manager, Express Scripts is just as concerned about the costs of these new drugs to their clients as they are about their benefits. So as gene therapy drugs come to market, Express Scripts is seeking how to make them affordable for consumers.

“Much of what we do is about looking ahead, including forecasting costs for our clients and trying to figure out how they are going to pay for prescription drugs in the future,” DeCarlo said. “There was a time when prescription drug prices used to go up 10%, 15% a year. Inflation is still pretty high here, but many of our cost containment programs help keep drug trends down to 2% or 3% a year, which is manageable. We would like to get it as close to zero as possible.”

It was all part of NJBIA’s Holiday Networking event, hosted by Inside Rx, a subsidiary of Express Scripts that provides drug discount programs. Inside Rx is one of several NJBIA affiliates offering services and discounts to member companies.

Attendees heard directly from a number of NJBIA benefit providers, including:

  • Association Master Trust, which offers access to employer-sponsored health benefits at large group rates;
  • Primepoint HRMS & Payroll, which provides a discount for NJBIA members for its payroll and HR management services;
  • Priority Payment Systems Local, which can lower credit-card processing fees for NJBIA members and provides a cash-advance program allowing merchants to borrow up to $1 million;
  • Arch Insurance, which offers an alternative to the state-run Temporary Disability Insurance program; and
  • Inside Rx, the hosts of today’s event and a provider of prescription drug discounts.

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