LEHI (ABC4 News) – The new non-profit generic drug company founded by Intermountain Healthcare finally has a home. CivicaRx opened its headquarters in Lehi’s ‘Silicon Slopes’ Thursday morning.
For Bountiful resident Terra Teller, the news provides some relief. The past five years have been extremely rough for her family. Her daughter, Riah passed away from a battle with cancer in 2014. Shortly after, her husband was diagnosed with leukemia.
“It’s been hard. Really hard to fight those battles back to back,” said Teller. “Both emotionally and financially.”
What makes the battle even harder is the crippling cost of prescription drugs required to keep her husband alive. Teller said his medications alone cost approximately $8,000 per year.
“The holiday season is supposed to be a happy time. But instead, we’re worried about how we’re going to come up with this out-of-pocket maximum so that my husband can get his chemotherapy pills,” she said. “It makes it hard to be in a place where you can be positive while fighting the illness.”
That’s the kind of concern CivicaRx hopes to address. In a press conference Thursday morning, company officials said they’ll be manufacturing their own selected generic drugs to help make medication more accessible and affordable for patients nationwide.
In a release to ABC4 News, officials said, “some generic drug manufacturers have been widely criticized in the past for unwarranted and arbitrary price increases and for creating artificial shortages of vital generic medications. Civica Rx aims to fix this problem. Research suggests that in many instances, generic drug prices can be reduced significantly, saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year to improve patient care.”
So far, 900 hospitals across the country have formed memberships with the company.
“We will be able to provide drugs at an appropriate cost without shortages in a way that’s sustainable and invest it back into the company to be able to iterate and develop for the future,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare.
The idea was initially developed by Dan Liljenquist, senior vice president of strategy at Intermountain Healthcare, who became emotional when sharing how his vision was initially met with skepticism.
“I said to Martin (VanTrieste, President and CEO of Civica Rx), ‘I can bring the hospitals together. I know how to make drugs. I’ll find the team to make the drugs.’ We now have that team with world-class talent,” said Liljenquist.
As the company takes off, Teller said her family remains optimistic for the future.
“I’m just really, really hoping that this is something that can help so many good people take their minds off a hard situation and concentrate on fighting their illness,” said Teller.
CivicaRx will begin manufacturing a select number of generic prescription drugs. At this time, they don’t know exactly how many that will be. Officials hope to begin distribution within the next three to four months.