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 08, 2015

The Power of Formulary Non-Exclusion: Express Scripts Adds PCSK9 drugs

This week, pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Express Scripts announced that both of the new PCSK9 inhibitors—Repatha (from Amgen) and Praluent (from Sanofi/Regeneron)—will be on its National Preferred Formulary. Both products will be subject to extensive prior authorization and step therapy. Read the press release.

This formulary approach contrasts sharply with the approach used for the Hepatitis C products. As I explain below, perhaps Express Scripts has learned an important lesson about the business risks of formulary exclusion. AmerisourceBergen, however, may find that it was dealt a losing hand.

As Canadian philosopher Gary Lee Weinrib once opined: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Read on and see if you agree.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

NEW: 2015-16 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors

I am pleased to announce the availability of our new report: the 2015-16 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors. We’re offering special discounts if you order before October 24, 2015.

This year’s report—our sixth edition—has been updated, revised, reorganized, and expanded. It contains the latest industry and financial data, along with detailed information about the strategies and market positions of the largest public companies: AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health. It also includes many new elements.
The 2015-16 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors is the most comprehensive, non-partisan tool for building deep business acumen about the economic and business realities of U.S. pharmaceutical distribution.

I've worked hard to make it an essential tool for pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists, pharmacy owners, benefit managers, managed care executives, healthcare policy analysts, investors, consultants—anyone who wants to understand and benefit from this ever-changing industry.

Alas, the report has no corny jokes and 0.0% pop culture references. I recognize that some Drug Channels readers may consider these omissions to be value-enhancing features.

If you have any questions (before or after reading the report), please email me. Enjoy!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Life Sciences Trade and Channel Strategies 2015

CBI’s 11th Life Sciences Trade and Channel Strategies
December 9-10, 2015 | Philadelphia, PA

Are you ready for some drug channel strategy?

Then join me at CBI’s 11th Trade and Channel Strategies conference, being held this December in Philadelphia. CBI’s annual event is the life science industry’s premier event focused on bio/pharma trade, channel, and account management. Use discount code AKE367 to save $200.

Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., of Pembroke Consulting, will kick things off with a keynote address called Drug Channels Update—Things to Watch in 2016. Dr. Fein will update everyone on hot topics and identify key strategic issues for the year ahead.

Day one will end with the renowned Trade Throwdown: Battle of the Experts. This year, Dr. Fein will be joined by Bill Roth of Blue Fin Group and Allen Dunehew of Rx Sourcing Strategies. Come prepared with your most vexing questions and watch them compete in CBI’s XTreme Trade Battle Cage™. Three consultants will enter…but only three will leave!

Other new features for 2015 include:
  • A Trailblazer Address from Kaiser Permanente Colorado on Optimizing Care and Quality in Our Health System.
  • A Manufacturer Strategic Viewpoint Panel featuring industry speakers discussing network design and forward-thinking product-specific strategies for optimized distribution.
  • A Wall Street Panel, where you'll learn how the drug channel is changing and what they are forecasting for the future.
  • A Trade Think Tank, where you can identify trailblazing trends by benchmarking with your peers utilizing interactive and anonymous live polling.
Visit for more information. Drug Channels readers will save $200 off of the standard registration rate when they use code AKE367.*

*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.

Friday, October 02, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: In 2016, 85% of Medicare Part D plans have a preferred pharmacy network

The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) just released data on 2016's Medicare Part D plans. Our exclusive, warp speed analysis reveals that 85% of Medicare Part D regional prescription drug plans (PDP) will have a preferred cost sharing network in 2016. That’s comparable to the 2015 figures, and signals that these plans are here to stay.

Preferred network plans are controversial (and generally disliked) by pharmacy owners. That’s because reduced pharmacy profits are the biggest source of cost savings from these networks. Despite ongoing complaints, it's still full speed ahead for preferred networks.

Read on for a look at the top plans. I'll review pharmacy network participation in a future article.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

It's Finally Time For ICD-10 Fun!

Rejoice, fans of medical billing codes. It’s ICD-10 Compliance Day!

As you may know, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will expand the number of medical service codes for doctors and hospitals, from 18,000 in the ICD-9 to more than 140,000 in the ICD-10. Click here for a good background article from The Wall Street Journal. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been counting down to today's launch.

So, today is a perfect time to revisit the Find-A-Code YouTube channel, where you can see a gaggle of semi-wacky video clips illustrating legitimate ICD-10 codes.

I picked out a few choice ones below, including my personal favorite V95.44 ("Spacecraft accident injuring occupant”). And that's only one of an astounding 21 spacecraft-related ICD-10 codes.

Click here to search the database and discover your own lucky code.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drug Channels News Roundup, September 2015: CVS Health, AmerisourceBergen, and Generic Inflation

Fall is here! Curl up with your extra hot grande Pumpkin Spice Whatever and check out this cornucopia of stories harvested from the Drug Channels crop:
  • A neat profile of Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy (and future CEO of CVS Health?)
  • An interesting interview with AmerisourceBergen CEO Steve Collis
  • The other NCPA deconstructs the supply chain factors behind generic drug inflation
Plus, The Onion reports on a highly innovative new health benefit plan.

P.S. For my daily harvest of interesting news stories, follow @DrugChannels on Twitter.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Real World Evidence & Market Access Summit 2015

eyeforpharma Real World Evidence & Market Access Summit 2015
December 3-4, 2015 | Philadelphia, PA

The 4th annual eyeforpharma Real World Evidence & Market Access Summit 2015 provides attendees with 5 strategic events in one, offering a rare 360° view on how big data becomes evidence, and evidence becomes value. For the first time, 15+ major health systems and key payers signed up to talk specifics from data sharing, formulary design to risk-based contracting. Of course, the program will still include government contributions and exclusive pharma industry case studies. That promises a fascinating bundle of unfiltered information from the entire suite of data and market access stakeholders – all under one roof.

Drug Channels readers will save $300 off the standard registration rate when they register with discount code 4318DC300

Speakers Include:
  • Usman Iqbal, Senior Director, Medical Affairs Leader, AstraZeneca
  • Eugene Kolker, Chief Data Officer, Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • Mark Weiner, Chief Medical Information Officer, Temple University Health System
  • John Hernandez, Global VP, HEOR, Abbott
  • Marilyn Metcalf, Sr. Director, Benefit Risk Evaluation, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Faisal Mehmud, VP Medical Affairs, Novartis
  • Garrett Ingram, VP & Head, US Market Access, Sanofi
  • Julie Locklear, VP, HEOR, EMD Serono
  • Eric Newman, Vice-Chair of Clinical Innovations, Chief of Specialty Care Innovation & Integration, Geisinger

Use discount code 4318DC300 to save $300. Register today!

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why Walgreens Boots Alliance is Triggering a Huge AmerisourceBergen Stock Buyback

On Tuesday, AmerisourceBergen announced a new $2.4 billion share repurchase program. Read the press release. This new program brings ABC’s total repurchases to more than $4 billion in less than two years.

Here's why: ABC’s multi-faceted deal with Walgreen Boots Alliance (WBA) is motivating these transactions.

Let’s peer over the hedge and find out what’s going on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Cardinal and McKesson Customer Deals Show A Changing Generic Channel

In July, I highlighted how payer and pharmacy consolidation will affect drug wholesalers. As I detail below, two big acquirers—OptumRx and Albertsons—are both switching primary wholesalers and simultaneously migrating their generic purchasing to the wholesale channel.

These latest deals show how generic purchasing consortia are accelerating business alignment between pharmacies and their wholesaler suppliers.

The deals also signal further generic purchasing consolidation. For both brand-name and generic drug manufacturers, a robust channel strategy function is more important than ever.