Express Scripts sues drugmaker Horizon as fight over prescription dispensing grows

The drugmaker Horizon Pharma is questioning its relationship with an Express Scripts business after the pharmacy benefits giant sued Horizon for about $140 million and dumped a pharmacy that dispenses its drugs.

Shares of Horizon Pharma Plc plunged Wednesday before markets opened after it said it will re-evaluate its relationship with the Express Scripts Accredo specialty pharmacy, which accounts for a bigger slice of Horizon’s revenue than any other pharmacy.

The Dublin-based drugmaker’s announcement followed a decision by Express Scripts to remove Linden Care pharmacy from its network.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts said Linden mainly dispensed Horizon drugs and failed to fulfil some key elements of its pharmacy network agreement.

An Express Scripts spokesman said the company also will review other similar captive pharmacies, which derive most of their prescription business from one drugmaker. “We routinely monitor our network and take action when we see pharmacies trying to circumvent solutions, like formulary management, that protect payers and patients from wasteful drug spend,” spokesman Brian Henry said in an emailed statement.

Pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs, run prescription drug plans for employers, insurers and other customers. They also have a lot of influence over drug company revenues because they negotiate drug prices and control access to coverage networks with millions of patients.

Horizon denied that Linden is a captive pharmacy for the drugmaker. The company noted that less than 5 per cent of its sales come from prescriptions filled by Linden and processed by Express Scripts.

Horizon contends that Express Scripts is trying to squeeze out small pharmacies that compete with Accredo.

Express Scripts says customers have many pharmacy choices for getting their medicines, and it takes action when pharmacies fall out of compliance with network agreements.

The PBM also said it filed a complaint in Delaware Superior Court to recover money from Horizon, which it says has not stuck with a pharmaceutical manufacturer rebate agreement it struck with Express Scripts.

Horizon said the Express Scripts Holding Co. court complaint is tied to a previously disclosed dispute in which it ended a contract with Express Scripts after the pharmacy benefits manager failed to live up to its obligations.

U.S.-traded shares of Horizon were down 14.7 per cent, or $3.28, to $19.10 shortly before the opening bell. Express Scripts rose 26 cents to $88.79.