UPDATE 2-Irmat Pharmacy says faces termination by UnitedHealth's OptumRx

Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:34pm EST
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(Adds background, Optum comment)

By Deena Beasley

Nov 13 (Reuters) - U.S. mail order pharmacy company Irmat is suing UnitedHealth Group pharmacy benefit unit OptumRx for its plans to drop Irmat from its network at the end of the month.

In the suit, filed late on Thursday in New York Supreme Court, Irmat said it received notice that it will be cut off from reimbursement by OptumRx, which operates a mail-order pharmacy that competes with Irmat, particularly for medicines that treat dermatological ailments.

Irmat is the latest specialty, mail-order pharmacy to be dropped by a payer. Last month, drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc was accused of using its close ties with pharmacy Philidor Rx Services to improperly inflate revenue. Valeant has denied the allegations and cut ties with Philidor, prompting several payers to follow suit.

"We believe that Optum ... is taking these actions merely to force its members to use only its pharmacy for mail-order sales," said Matthew Cantor, a lawyer for Irmat.

OptumRx spokesman Matthew Stearns said that Irmat had been approved as a retail-only pharmacy in the OptumRx network but was providing pharmaceuticals by mail, which has different criteria. X

Several pharmacy benefit managers, including OptumRx, last month removed Philidor from their networks and said they are evaluating other pharmacies with links to drugmakers.

Express Scripts Holding Co, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, has cut Linden Care pharmacy from its network, citing close ties with drugmaker Horizon Pharma LLC .   Continued...