Prior Authorization Requirements for Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 Inhibitors Across US Private and Public Payers

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Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors (PCSK9is) are an innovative treatment option for patients with familial hypercholesterolemia or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease who require further lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. However, the high costs of these agents have spurred payers to implement utilization management policies to ensure appropriate use. We examined prior authorization (PA) requirements for PCSK9is across private and public US payers.

Methods and Results:

We conducted an analysis of 2016 formulary coverage and PA data from a large, proprietary database with information on policies governing >95% of Americans with prescription drug coverage (275.3 million lives) within 3872 plans across the 4 major insurance segments (commercial, health insurance exchange, Medicare, and Medicaid). The key measures included administrative PA criteria (prescriber specialty, number of criteria in PA policy or number of fields on PA form, requirements for medical record submission, reauthorization requirements) and clinical/diagnostic PA criteria (approved conditions, required laboratories or other tests, required concomitant therapy, step therapy requirements, continuation criteria) for each of 2 Food and Drug Administration–approved PCSK9is. Select measures (eg, number of PA criteria/fields, medical record submission requirements) were obtained for 2 comparator cardiometabolic drugs (ezetimibe and liraglutide). Between 82% and 97% of individuals were enrolled in plans implementing PA for PCSK9is (depending on insurance segment), and one third to two thirds of these enrollees faced PAs restricting PCSK9i prescribing to a specialist. For patients with familial hypercholesterolemia, diagnostic confirmation via genetic testing or meeting minimum clinical scores/criteria was also required. PA requirements were more extensive for PCSK9is as compared with the other cardiometabolic drugs (ie, contained 3×–11× the number of PA criteria or fields on PA forms and more frequently involved the submission of medical records as supporting documentation).


PA requirements for PCSK9is are greater than for selected other drugs within the cardiometabolic disease area, raising concerns about whether payer policies to discourage inappropriate use may also be restricting access to these drugs in patients who need them.

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