Kaiser Permanente, the large health insurer and hospital operator, is joining the nonprofit drug company Civica Rx in a key role in the third year of the effort to create lower cost prescriptions that include medicines to treat the coronavirus strain Covid-19.
Civica Rx grabbed headlines two years ago for its work with well-known U.S. hospitals and health systems to buy and develop generic drugs to avoid shortages. Launched in 2018 by three philanthropies and seven hospital systems, Civica now represents more than 1,200 U.S. hospitals via more than 50 member health systems that say they are benefitting from lower cost injectable drugs including antibiotics once in short supply.
In Kaiser Permanente, Civica Rx gets a high-profile name known for both providing and paying for healthcare services. Kaiser will get a board seat on the Civica Rx governing board that is expanding to 11 and includes the original 7 founding hospital systems and the three philanthropies, executives involved said.
“We will greatly value their expertise and input on the board during this urgent time of need,” Civica Rx chief executive officer Martin VanTrieste said of Kaiser Permnanente.
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The original seven founding health systems are: CommonSpirit Health, HCA Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, Providence St. Joseph Health, SSM Health, and Trinity Health. And the three philanthropies that led the establishment of Civica Rx are Gary and Mary West Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and Peterson Center on Healthcare.
Financial terms of Kaiser’s involvement weren’t disclosed by CivicaRx, but a Civic Rx spokeswoman confirmed “all Civica members make a one-time financial contribution.”
Kaiser Permanente, which has more than 12 million health plan members, “will provide an important voice in designing Civica’s future strategy,” those involved announced last week. Civica executives said the drug maker is “already delivering 20 essential generic medications, 10 of which are currently being used to treat COVID-19 patients.”
The pandemic figured in Kaiser’s decision to join Civica Rx just as studies are showing some generic drugs may work as treatments against the Coronavirus strain Covid-19.
“At Kaiser Permanente, we know that our members and all Americans need access to affordable medications for emergency care and to support recovery from illness and management of chronic conditions,” Kaiser Permanente Chairman and chief executive officer Greg Adams said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the critical need for ensuring consistent supplies of affordable, generic medications for patients and we are proud to join with Civica Rx to help lead these efforts.”
Kaiser’s decision to be involved is the latest momentum behind Civica Rx.
In January, The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a Chicago-based national trade group that represents some of the nation’s biggest health insurance companies, said 18 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are spending $55 million to create a new subsidiary of the nonprofit generic drug maker Civica Rx to “acquire and develop abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) for select generic drugs.” Kaiser is not involved in a new subsidiary of Civica Rx launched earlier this year with several Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.