News Column

CVS earnings shoot up on specialty drug sales

August 5, 2014

By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald



Aug. 06--The specialty drug market is helping fuel growth at CVS Caremark, which yesterday topped expectations as the Woonsocket, R.I., company reported an 11 percent jump in revenue in the second quarter.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain earned $1.25 billion, or $1.06 per share, in the quarter that ended June 30, up from $1.12 million, or 91 cents per share over the same period last year.

Revenue from its pharmacy benefits management side jumped 16 percent, and operating profit from that segment soared 30 percent, helped by new business and the growth of expensive specialty drugs, which analyst Peter Costa of Wells Fargo Securities called "the fastest growing component of pharmaceutical spending."

"Close to half of the drugs being developed in Massachusetts are biologic drugs, which are developed from a living organism and usually administered by injection and which typically are considered specialty drugs when they hit the market," said Peter Abair, director of economic and global affairs at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

Some examples are the fertility drugs Cetrotide and Gonal-f, both developed by EMD Serono, which has facilities in Rockland and Billerica; the oncology drug Erivedge, developed by Curis, which is headquartered in Lexington; and the malignant-melanoma drug Intron A and the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex, both developed by Biogen Idec, which is headquartered in Cambridge.

"Specialty drugs typically are used to treat complex, often rare conditions," Abair said. "And while they may have a high cost, these drugs help keep patients out of hospitals."

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Source: Boston Herald (MA)


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