Pharmacy Giants Drop Popular Diabetes Drug


Express Scripts and CVS Caremark have announced that both will remove dozens of medications from their lists of drugs covered by health plans. The two are the largest pharmacy benefits companies in the United States. Express Scripts will remove almost 20 medications and CVS over 30 medications for 2016.

One of the biggest casualties for Express Scripts in 2016 will be AstraZeneca’s popular diabetes drug Onglyza. CVS Caremark first removed Onglyza in 2014 for its 2015 health plans. This followed a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 suggesting that as many as 27 percent of all patients taking Onglyza were hospitalized for heart failure.

If you or a loved one have had worsening heart conditions or have experienced new symptoms related to heart health since starting Onglyza you may have legal recourse. Medical expenses, loss of income and other damages all could be covered. Contact us for a free confidential and no obligation consultation.

Onglyza has been under increasing scrutiny by the FDA since the publication of that study and earlier concerns about the drug’s links to pancreatic conditions. After the study was published many patients and doctors voiced concern that a warning to those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions should have originally been included on the drug’s warning label.

In April 2015, an FDA panel investigating the NEJM study confirmed “an association between…treatment [with Onglyza] and an increased risk for [heart failure].” The risks found were particularly prevalent among individuals taking Onglyza who already had heart conditions. The panel also said that Onglyza should carry a warning about an increased risk of heart failure. The FDA’s decision-making process regarding the warning is still ongoing.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Initially, this means that in 2016 Onglyza will likely be more difficult to get at your local pharmacy and almost certainly more expensive. Express Scripts and CVS Caremark combined represent more than a 50% market share of the pharmacy benefits management (PBM) industry. Therefore it is likely that your healthcare plan uses one of these two PBMs. Based on market data and health risks, PBMs determine what medications to cover and which to exclude. Their decision means that if your health plan uses one of these PBMs you will be forced to choose a different medication or pay full price out-of-pocket to continue using Onglyza to treat your Type 2 Diabetes.

I Have A History Of Heart Problems And Am Taking Onglyza. Should I Be Worried?

Only a trained medical professional can help you determine what the most appropriate treatment methods are for your condition. If you have a history of heart issues and are currently taking Onglyza you should discuss with your physician if alternative treatments are right for you. There may be other medications on the market that are better suited to treat your Type 2 Diabetes without increased risk of cardiovascular complications. If you suffer from conditions like congestive heart failure, heart attacks, or strokes your physician will be able to evaluate your level of risk.

Morgan & Morgan attorneys have advised thousands of clients in drug defect cases on their legal options. Just complete our no fee, no obligation case evaluation to find out if you are eligible to file a heart attack or heart failure case against the makers of Onglyza.