LEHI — Some of the most essential generic medications are about to become more available and more affordable, thanks to a new, one-of-a-kind company with a mission to put patients first.
Civica Rx, a nonprofit generic drug company headquartered in Utah, has more than 900 hospitals across the United States on board and will begin supplying at least 14 widely used generic drugs before the end of the year, said Civica Rx President and CEO Martin VanTrieste.
“I’ve always felt that serving patients was a privilege and a responsibility,” VanTrieste, a retired pharmacist who won’t be taking a salary for his work at the local startup, said Thursday. “I’ve always thought we should do what’s best for the patients. I’ve been fortunate in my life and this is an opportunity for me to give back.”
Three years in the making, Civica is the “brainchild” of Dan Liljenquist, a former Utah senator and senior vice president at Intermountain Healthcare. He said the realization that major pharmaceutical companies had the ability to pull products from the market and charge whatever they want for them was “just not sitting well with me. ”
“It’s a social injustice, really,” Liljenquist said.
The idea for Civica Rx, he said, “was like a light turned on, and I could see down the road, this company.”
Civica will help to address the more than 277 drug shortages tracked by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists across the country, many of which have long made it through the expensive research and patent process and have been available as generics, some at lower costs than they are now.
“That practice is bad for patients,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO at Intermountain Healthcare, which is backing the Civica team. “We want to make some of these things right.”