OptumRx Flags 5 Drugs to Watch At Close of ‘Evolutionary’ Year

  • Dec 22, 2021

    In a move that demonstrates just how quickly things can change in the prescription drug world, one of the five drugs featured in OptumRx’s latest quarterly Drug Pipeline Insights Report was rejected by the FDA not long after the report went live in late November. But an expert from the UnitedHealth Group-owned PBM says the other four drugs highlighted in the report remain worth watching — including one that just got the FDA’s blessing.

    The rejected drug in question is plinabulin, which was being developed to prevent chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) — a condition in which patients have an abnormally low amount of a certain type of white blood cell. The FDA sent a response letter to plinabulin’s manufacturer, BeyondSpring Pharmaceuticals, on Dec. 1, stating that the results of a single registrational trial conducted by the company was not sufficiently robust to demonstrate the drug’s benefit and that a second, well-controlled trial “would be required to satisfy the substantial evidence requirement to support the CIN indication,” according to the drugmaker.

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  • Leslie Small

    Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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