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Drugmaker discontinuing Type 2 diabetes medication

Approximately 6,200 Military Health System beneficiaries who are using Tanzeum to aid with managing their Type 2 diabetes will need to switch to an alternative in the wake of GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s announcement that it will stop manufacturing the drug starting in late July. Beneficiaries are advised to speak with their provider about the preferred alternative medications and which is best for them. (MHS graphic) Approximately 6,200 Military Health System beneficiaries who are using Tanzeum to aid with managing their Type 2 diabetes will need to switch to an alternative in the wake of GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s announcement that it will stop manufacturing the drug starting in late July. Beneficiaries are advised to speak with their provider about the preferred alternative medications and which is best for them. (MHS graphic)

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Approximately 6,200 Military Health System beneficiaries who are using a pen-injection prescription medication called Tanzeum to aid with managing their Type 2 diabetes will need to switch to an alternative in the wake of GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s announcement that it will stop manufacturing the drug starting in late July.

Tanzeum will continue to be available until the current supply runs out, said U.S. Public Health Service Lt. Cmdr. Teisha Robertson, pharmacist in the Pharmacy Operations Division at the Defense Health Agency. However, beneficiaries who continue filling prescriptions for the drug after July 24 will be charged a higher copay.

“Beneficiaries are advised to speak with their provider about the preferred alternative medications and which is best for them,” Robertson said.

The brand-name preferred alternatives are Bydureon or Bydureon BCise, manufactured by Astra Zeneca; and Trulicity, by Lilly. Trulicity is a pen-injection medication; Bydureon is vial or pen; and Bydureon BCise is an auto-injector. The copay is the same no matter which of these alternatives is chosen, Robertson said.

Tanzeum prescriptions can be transferred to a brand-name alternative without the provider submitting a new prior authorization, Robertson said. Prior authorization is a routine review process to ensure that the requested medication is safe, cost-effective, and medically required. The generic preferred drug, Metformin, is in tablet form and doesn’t require any prior authorization.

GSK said its decision to stop manufacturing Tanzeum was voluntary and not related to any safety concern. MHS beneficiaries with Tanzeum prescriptions began receiving letters about the change in late May from prescription benefit plan provider Express Scripts.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t properly use or make enough insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose from food for energy or store it for future use.

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