Aware of recent studies which showed that paying people to lose weight and quit smoking actually works, CIGNA and Merck have decided to launch a program that pays CIGNA beneficiaries to improve their diabetes control.
And if they happen to take Merck’s oral anti-diabetes medications during that effort, so much the better.
According to terms of the deal, CIGNA will review hemoglobin A1C results for enrollees who take oral hypoglycemic agents and if at the end of the year the values have improved, Merck will offer discounts on its entries in this field, Januvia and Janumet.
CIGNA will also review claims data for people taking the 2 drugs to determine whether they’re using them as prescribed by their physicians.
If they are, Merck will increase its discounts to CIGNA for these drugs even more.
CIGNA would then supposedly pass the savings along to its beneficiaries.
“Merck (is) the first major pharmaceutical company to offer discounts on its oral anti-diabetic products, supporting CIGNA’s efforts to reduce A1C levels for individuals with diabetes, regardless of what medication they may be taking,” said Eric Elliott, president of CIGNA Pharmacy Management.
Januvia was approved by the FDA in 2006. Janumet made the grade in 2007. Annual sales for the two are in the $1.5 billion range, and some experts predict that number will triple in the next few years making these drugs world leaders in the growing market for oral antidiabetic therapy.
Come to think of it, why wouldn’t Merck throw tuppence at a program that hooks patients on its high-end drugs for the rest of their lives?