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...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Take the DCI Economic Reports Survey...and Win a Free Report!

I want to know what you think of Drug Channels Institute's (DCI) economic reports and how I can improve them.

What's in it for you? Well, just answer a few brief questions—the survey should take 5 to 10 minutes, tops—and you could win a free Drug Channels Institute report.

You can answer anonymously. But if you provide an email address, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a free corporate license of our forthcoming 2015-16 Economic Report on Retail, Mail, and Specialty Pharmacies, which will be released in February 2016. If you win, you'll be one of the first people to get this new report!

Any information you provide will be held in the strictest confidence. Per Drug Channels' long-standing policy, I never publish, release, or disclose any personal data without your permission.

Thanks in advance for helping me help you. I read EVERY response, so don't be shy.

P.S. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoy time with your family...along with a traditional meal of toast, popcorn, pretzels, and jelly beans!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Expanded Access Programs 2016

Expanded Access Programs 2016
February 23-24, 2016 | Washington, DC

Current legislation is quickly paving the path for easier patient access to experimental, unapproved drugs. CBI’s Expanded Access Programs is the industry’s leading event dedicated to the nuances and complexities of designing and implementing early access programs. This multi-stakeholder event is focused on U.S. and global models for a variety of access management programs, including, but not limited to:

Expanded Access Programs, Early Access Programs, Compassionate Use Programs, Named Patient Programs and Managed Access Programs.

The FDA and a broad array of key stakeholders are coming together for an in-depth and meaningful discussion on Expanded Access Programs where the implications, prevailing policies and current industry approaches are discussed in detail. Don’t miss the opportunity to join your peers and share best practices around providing investigational, pre-launch or end-of-lifecycle drugs to patients for treatment purposes.

Visit for more information.

Speakers Include Representatives from:

FDA | National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) | Pfizer | Dyax Corporation |Prothena Biosciences, Inc. | King & Spalding LLP | Idis Managed Access | AstraZeneca | Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) | Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical | Max Cure Foundation, Inc. | Ax-S Pharma | ALS Emergency Treatment Fund | Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. | Amgen | Canadian Organization for Rare Diseases (CORD)

Drug Channels readers will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code SNH248.*

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

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

After the Valeant-Philidor Blowup, PBMs Clamp Down on Network Pharmacies

The initial fallout from the Valeant-Philidor kerfuffle has hit the pharmacy industry. Over the past few weeks, the major pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have begun dropping pharmacies from their networks. Some PBMs are also reminding retail pharmacies that they are prohibited from acting as mail pharmacies.

Below, I highlight the high-profile network pruning by the top three PBMs—Express Scripts, the Caremark PBM business of CVS Health, and the OptumRx business of UnitedHealthcare. I also speculate on the factors that would lead a PBM to clash with a pharmacy in its network.

An as-yet-unanswered question: If PBMs routinely monitor their networks, why did it take a highly publicized pharmacy meltdown before PBMs finally cracked down?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Independent Pharmacy Economics: Profits Steady, but Sales Down (Maybe)

Time for my annual look at independent pharmacy owners’ business economics, drawn from the recently released 2015 National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Digest, Sponsored by Cardinal Health. Here's the press release: NCPA Digest: Adherence, Diversified Revenue Critical for Community Pharmacies.

The data reveal that independent pharmacy owners are doing better than you might expect. In 2014, the average pharmacist owning a single pharmacy earned about $228,000. The number of independent pharmacies continues to hold steady.

In the NCPA Digest sample, average per-prescription revenue declined, which reduced gross profits and average prescription revenues. On the other hand, IMS Health data imply independents' revenue and prescriptions are growing, not declining. Hmmm.

As always, I welcome your constructive and civil comments. Please remember our Drug Channels philosophy, courtesy of the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

Monday, November 16, 2015

sPCMA Business Forum


Connect with Specialty Pharmacy’s Most Influential Leaders

The sPCMA Business Forum attracts the highest number of executives and decision makers from PBMs and the nation's largest specialty pharmacies of any industry conference. The sPCMA Business Forum is a networking and educational conference designed for professionals of all levels engaged in the business of specialty pharmacy and pharmaceutical care.

Register now!

2016 sPCMA Business Forum
February 8 & 9, 2016
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes | Orlando, FL

Conference features include:
  • Presentations by C-suite and other senior PBM, specialty pharmacy and pharma executives;
  • Timely and thought-provoking CPE sessions;
  • Dedicated time and facilities for private meetings;
  • Pre-conference networking through PCMA-Connect; and
  • Networking receptions with members and conference sponsors.
Who Should Attend
Anyone interested in attending is welcome. The 1,300 attendees will range from C-suite executives to mid-level professionals tasked with all aspects of the business of specialty pharmacy. Companies in attendance will include specialty pharmacies of all sizes and composition, PBMs, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, consultants, vendors, and other specialty pharmacy stakeholders.

Contact PCMA
Please contact Jenny Dawson with questions or to request information about the Affiliate Program or conference sponsorships.

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Drug Prices, Manufacturer Rebates, and the Risk to Channel Economics

Here’s a Drug Channels Zen koan for you: When does a price increase not increase the price?

This riddle came to me while reviewing the excellent new Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) slide deck called Prescription Medicines: Costs in Context. (Free download.) The slides argue—persuasively, I believe—that pharmaceuticals have been undervalued as a source of health benefits and unfairly maligned as the key driver of costs.

One important slide, reproduced below, is definitely worth your time. Despite the growth in drug list prices, manufacturers are experiencing limited growth in net revenues, which deduct payer rebates. As the data show, this difference has grown sharply over the past two years. I also present data from a separate Medicaid analysis, which tells a similar story.

Meanwhile, drug list price increases are boosting revenues at drug channels companies—pharmacies, wholesalers, and PBMs. These intermediaries are still compensated on gross (not net) revenues. I wonder: Will the growing gross-to-net disparity make current channel economic arrangements unsustainable for wholesalers and pharmacies?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: How the Eight Biggest Retail Chains (and Independents) Are Participating in 2016's Part D Preferred Networks

In a previous exclusive analysis (In 2016, 85% of Medicare Part D plans 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 retail chains in the biggest Part D networks. Walmart and Walgreens lead the pack in preferred network participation. CVS remains conservative, while Rite Aid has opted out. In most plans, independents feature prominently as preferred pharmacy options.

Preferred networks are crucial for understanding drug channel economics. Pharmacies compete to be in these networks, so the cost savings come from lower pharmacy profits. And Medicare Part D accounts for more than one-quarter of the outpatient prescription market. Read on for our exclusive, Evil Dead inspired look at 2016’s preferred network participants.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Hub and SPP Model Optimization

CBI’s 6th Hub and SPP Model Optimization
February 23-24, 2016 | Philadelphia, PA

CBI’s Hub and SPP Model Optimization Summit has earned strong acclaim from hundreds of biopharma manufacturers for its focus on cutting-edge content and next generation issues impacting HUB model design, streamlined patient access and specialty pharmacy network strategy. Benefit from expert insights from all key stakeholders including manufacturers, specialty pharmacies, hubs, payers, PBMs, physicians and hear robust discussion around the most pressing topics related to hub and SPP model optimization.

Stakeholders providing expert insight include representatives from ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Biologics, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Churchill Pharmaceuticals, CoverMyMeds, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Independent Health, Geisinger Health Plan, Grifols, Incyte Corporation, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Intarcia Therapeutics, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lash Group, a part of AmerisourceBergen, Omnicare Specialty Care Group, PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy, Practice Accreditation®, ProMetrics, Raptor Pharmaceuticals, Therigy, Triplefin, Turing Pharmaceuticals, UBC, URAC, Veloxis Pharmaceuticals and VirMedica.

Don’t miss this timely meeting as you prepare to launch, transition or reboot your corporate or product approach to hub services.

For more information, please download the complete agenda or visit Drug Channels readers will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code JSH345.*

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

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Drug Channels News Roundup, November 2015: Walgreens Boots Alliance, Diplomat Pharmacy, CVS Health, and Aetna (sort of)

Given last week’s big news, I had to skip my usual monthly news roundup. This selection may be a bit tardy, but the articles are certified fresh:
  • A revealing interview with Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina
  • The CEO and CFO of Diplomat Pharmacy both defend the specialty pharmacy industry with clarity and wit
  • CVS Health argues for pharmacy-health system partnerships
Plus, Aetna allows newlyweds to register for medical procedures. Now, that’s disruptive innovation!

P.S. For timely updates on stuff that I find cool and interesting, follow @DrugChannels on Twitter.