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Centene invests in pharmacy benefit manager RxAdvance

Numerous insurers see drug and administrative savings in joining forces with PBMs; Last week, Cigna announced plans to buy Express Scripts.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Centene has made an investment in pharmacy benefit manager RxAdvance, in yet another example of an insurer combing resources with a PBM.

The announcement comes a week after Cigna revealed plans to buy Express Scripts. Aetna is attempting to merge with CVS Health and gain the Caremark PBM and UnitedHealth Group has long held Optum Rx as its pharmacy benefit manager.

Centene said it will combine Rx Advance's collaborative cloud technology platform with its own pharmacy management expertise to improve health outcomes and reduce avoidable drug and administrative costs, the insurer said. 

"Centene has established a transformative partnership with RxAdvance to create its next generation pharmacy management solution," said Centene CEO Michael Neidorff. "RxAdvance's transparency, disruptive technology and unique approach to partnership will help us further improve quality health outcomes for our members and other customers, while managing healthcare costs."

The efficient operating model has significant administrative cost savings, Centene said, including the reduction in avoidable drug-impacted medical costs.

"For the past few years, the PBM industry has been under pressure as employers and payers recognize the need for both technology innovation and new business models," said Ravi Ika, RxAdvance founder and CEO.

Ika will continue in his current role as CEO. John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, will remain as chairman and chief marketing officer. Jesse Hunter, executive vice president of Mergers and Acquisitions and chief strategy officer for Centene, has joined the RxAdvance Board.

As part of the initial transaction, Centene said it has certain rights to expand its equity investment in the future.

The investment adds to the expertise of Centene's Envolve division. Centene and external customers will leverage Envolve's clinical competencies and RxAdvance's collaborative cloud platform to deliver integrated, real-time, and data-driven pharmacy management services, Centene said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com