AllianceRx Walgreens Prime Chosen as Sole Supplier of Metopirone in US

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by David Melamed, PhD |

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HRA Pharma Rare Diseases has named AllianceRx Walgreens Prime as its exclusive pharmacy distributor for two rare disease medications: Metopirone (metyrapone), used to diagnose Cushing’s syndrome, and Lysodren (mitotane), an approved treatment for people with adrenocortical carcinoma, a rare cancer of the adrenal gland.

AllianceRx Walgreens Prime — a partnership between Walgreens pharmacy and the pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics — will also be HRA Pharma Rare Diseases’ exclusive clinical support provider, it announced in a press release. HRA Pharma Rare Diseases is a division of HRA Pharma.

“At HRA Pharma, we constantly strive to provide accessible and affordable solutions to our patients,” said David Wright, CEO of HRA Pharma. “I believe making AllianceRx Walgreens Prime the exclusive pharmacy of our rare diseases affiliate is a step in the right direction to achieving this goal.”

People with Cushing’s syndrome have unusually high levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone that regulates blood pressure, immune activity or metabolism, and is produced by the adrenal glands. Its causes can be varied, and include excessive levels of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which causes the adrenal glands to ramp up cortisol production. (Cushing’s disease, in contrast, refers exclusively to excess cortisol arising from a pituitary tumor secreting ACTH.)

Metopirone, available as 250 mg capsules, is an oral medication that can be used to detect ACTH activity, providing a Cushing’s diagnosis or that of ACTH insufficiency.

The molecule blocks the synthesis of cortisol, resulting in an accumulation of cortisol synthesis precursor molecule 11-desoxycortisol. A metabolite product of this molecule, called 17-hydroxycorticosteroids (17-OCHS) can be detected in urine samples, allowing clinicians to measure ACTH activity.

Typically, 17-OCHS levels increase two-to-four times following Metopirone administration. An increase in 17-OCHS that is significantly greater than this range is indicative of Cushing’s.

Because Metopirone inhibits cortisol synthesis, the medication is occasionally used to combat hypercortisolism in Cushing’s patients.

Lysodren, an oral chemotherapy, has a direct toxic effect on the zona reticularis — the innermost layer of the adrenal cortex, which is responsible for producing cortisol. It is the only approved medication for patients in the U.S. with adrenocortical carcinoma.

“We are very excited to be the exclusive pharmacy to dispense these medicines,” Tracey James, senior vice president of pharmacy services at AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, said in the release. “HRA Pharma Rare Diseases recognizes our ability to clinically support patients throughout their treatment journey and link them to financial resources so they can obtain these life-changing medicines.”

AllianceRx Walgreens Prime reports having an expansive network of pharmacies across the U.S., with the goal of being the pharmacy of choice for patients with complex and chronic conditions.

“At HRA Pharma Rare Diseases, we are dedicated to giving our patients improved access to essential treatments,” said Evelina Paberze, chief operating officer of HRA Pharma Rare Diseases. “The decision to make AllianceRx Walgreens Prime our exclusive specialty pharmacy and clinical support provider means our rare disease patients in the U.S. will get improved access to Lysodren and Metopirone.”