OptumRx's 3 recently approved drugs to watch

OptumRx, the pharmacy benefit unit of UnitedHealth Group, recently released a report detailing three drugs that it expects to have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry in 2020. 

The FDA has approved 30 new drugs this year, slightly above the average annual number, and five approvals have been delayed due to COVID-19, OptumRx said in the report. 

The three drugs to watch: 

  1. Tecartus (Kite Pharma) — A cancer therapy approved July 24 designed to treat adult patients with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. It is the first CAR-T therapy for a rare and aggressive cancer called mantle cell lymphoma. It's competing against five other FDA-approved drugs for the same indication, but Tecartus was effective in patients who had already failed other treatments.

  2. Kesimpta (Novartis) — A drug approved Aug. 20 designed to treat the most common form of relapsing multiple sclerosis. It's competing with many other multiple sclerosis drugs, but it is a self-administered injection given once per month, which may offer it an advantage, OptumRx said. It's priced at $83,000 per year, with competing drugs priced between $65,000 and $85,000 per year.

  3. Monjuvi (MorphoSys) — A new treatment option for patients with the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Monjuvi was approved July 31. It targets the same cancer protein as existing CAR-T therapies, but is not a CAR-T drug, so it may offer an alternative to patients not eligible for CAR-T therapy.

Editor's note: This article was updated Sept. 23 at 6:13 p.m. to reflect corrections to Kesimpta's price and dose frequency. 

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