The Drug Channels blog delivers timely analysis and provocative opinions on pharmaceutical economics and the drug distribution system. It is written by Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., one of the country's foremost experts on pharmaceutical economics and channel strategy. Learn more...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

News Roundup, October 2014: Walgreens, Cardinal Health, Generics, Marley Drugs, and Roger Daltrey

Eeek! Time for my Halloween-themed roundup of Drug Channels news stories. In this issue:
  • Icky: Walgreen’s ex-CFO alleges defamation
  • Spooky: Generic inflation is changing benefit design
  • It’s alive! An independent pharmacy thrives with a unique strategy
As your treat, watch a video of Cardinal Health CEO George Barrett jammin’ on stage with The Who’s Roger Daltrey. (Not a trick. Really.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sovaldi: The Legendary Blockbuster

Yesterday, Gilead Sciences reported another blockbuster quarter for Sovaldi sales. (Read the press release.) But just how good was Sovaldi’s launch?

Mark Schoenebaum of ISI Group compared hepatis C treatment Sovaldi’s launch to the launch of such other legendary drugs as Avastin, Gleevec, Revlimid, and more. Based on the chart below, I think you’ll agree that Sovaldi is the most legendary of them all. Competitive launches and Sovaldi’s successor Harvoni will slow Sovaldi’s growth, but until then…wow!

Despite ongoing criticisms of Sovadi’s pricing, patients and physicians clearly want this biomedical innovation—and wholesalers, pharmacies, and PBMs have come along for the ride.

Monday, October 27, 2014

PBMI's 20th Annual Drug Benefit Conference

Here's a cool conference: The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) will host its 20th Annual Drug Benefit Conference at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter hotel in San Antonio, TX, on March 2-4, 2015.

Many attendees will be from employers, health plans, and unions, so you’ll learn the payers' perspectives on pharmacy benefits. Highlights include sessions on specialty drug management, healthcare reform, biosimilars, and the latest pharmacy benefit strategies. Check out the program preview.

Drug Channels readers can register with promo code PC2015 and receive an additional $300 off registration. Thanks, PBMI!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thoughts on Caremark’s No-Tobacco Preferred Pharmacy Network

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that CVS Health’s Caremark PBM will offer a new twist on preferred pharmacy networks. Consumers will face higher co-payments at pharmacies that sell tobacco products. See Caremark to Charge Extra Co-Pay at Pharmacies Selling Cigarettes. (The article includes comments from your friendly neighborhood blogger.)

The story generated plenty of other press coverage, much of it favorable for CVS Health. Below, I consider the move’s impact, including the payer’s perspective, the future of preferred networks, likely adoption rates, potential competitive effects on other drugstores, and whether CVS will replace $2 billion of lost tobacco revenue.

As a bonus, I tell you about Thank You For Smoking, one of my favorite movies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Walmart and Walgreens Dominate 2015 Part D Preferred Networks, With Independents Close Behind

In my previous post (For 2015, almost 9 out of 10 Medicare Part D plans will have a preferred pharmacy network), I highlighted the plans whose preferred pharmacy networks will dominate next year’s Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDP).

Today, I examine the pharmacy chains in the biggest plans’ networks. Walmart again leads the pack in preferred network participation. Walgreens has a big bet on preferred networks, while CVS and Rite Aid have been more cautious. Independent pharmacies feature prominently in many plans, which should—but probably won't—mute critics of preferred networks.

Read on for our exclusive look at 2015’s preferred network participants, along with some comments on DIR fees and pharmacy profits.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Specialty Data Optimization Summit

Specialty Data Optimization Summit
December 11, 2014 | Philadelphia, PA

CBI’s Specialty Data and Optimization Summit is the first and only event laser-focused on strategies for leveraging pharmacy data for the commercialization and market penetration of specialty products. This cutting-edge forum will provide you with in-depth discussions and key industry perspectives on how to maximize data to make informed, targeted decisions that take ROI to the next level.

Hear multi-stakeholder perspectives from Altometrixs, AstraZeneca, AxelaCare, Blue Fin Group, Exelixis, IMS Health, LiquidHub, Paragon, Prime Therapeutics, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Xcenda, and more!

Drug Channels readers will save $200 off of the standard registration rate when they use code SHA526.*

Register today!

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rates. Other restrictions may apply.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Closing Gaps in Specialty Pharmacy Performance

Today’s guest post comes from Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D., President and CEO of BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy.

Dr. Vogt offers a thoughtful perspective on specialty pharmacies' shortfalls in managing patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. He then describes the BioPlus RxSteward™ drug management program, which uses real-time patient data to reduce unnecessary drug utilization while maintaining excellent clinical outcomes. Dr. Vogt also shares data on the program's substantial cost savings. He sees RxSteward™ transforming BioPlus from a dispenser to a partner in a patient's pharmaceutical care.

Read on for details, including a look at drug-cost savings by HCV drug regimen and HCV genotype. Please contact BioPlus for more information about RxSteward™.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: For 2015, almost 9 out of 10 Medicare Part D plans will have a preferred pharmacy network

Tomorrow, Medicare Part D kicks off its open enrollment period. Through December 7, America’s seniors can keep their current plan or switch to a new one.

Who ya gonna call to understand the latest preferred pharmacy network trends? Drug Channels, of course!

For 2015, our analysis reveals that an astonishing 87% of Medicare Part D regional prescription drug plans (PDP) will have a preferred cost sharing network. That’s a big Twinkie!

Read on for our exclusive look at the 2015 Part D landscape, which includes insights on the major health plans—UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Express Scripts, et al—behind the PDPs.

Are pharmacies headed for a disaster of biblical proportions? In an upcoming article, I’ll look at pharmacy participation in the biggest plans’ networks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

VA • DoD • PHS • Federal Pricing and Contracts for Bio/Pharma Companies

VA • DoD • PHS • Federal Pricing and Contracts for Bio/Pharmaceutical Companies
December 9-10, 2014
Philadelphia, PA

Contracting with the Big Four Federal Programs can be very complex. Pricing models and processes for complying with complicated rules and regulations are difficult for any manufacturer to master.

CBI’s VA • DoD • PHS • Federal Pricing and Contracts is a must-attend event to stay up-to-date on processes and requirements and to gain best practices from your industry counterparts. Learn how to stay profitable in this low-margin, highly complex market.

You will gain insights from experts representing: Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Eisai, Epstein Becker Green, Government Pricing Specialists, Hogan Lovells, Impax Laboratories, IMS Health, M. Lee Consulting, Medicine Access and Compliance Coalition, National Supply Service Center, Nationwide Pharmaceutical, Pernix Therapeutics, Pfizer, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, VA Office of Contract Review, and VA Office of Inspector General.

Drug Channels readers who register before November 7th will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code JDG992.*


*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration or applied to special category rates. Other restrictions may apply.