Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Drug Channels News Roundup: March 2013

Despite the cold weather, spring has finally arrived! Let’s get ready for outside fun by staying inside and reading this bespoke selection of noteworthy Drug Channels news stories.

In this issue:
  • More on WAG/ABC—Other viewpoints on the supply chain impact
  • Which Way for Specialty? A valuable interview on buy-and-bill vs. white bagging
  • Generic Shenanigans—How consumers see the retail pharmacy’s price war
  • How Much Do You Weigh? CVS asks some personal questions
Plus, The Onion provides the patient’s perspective on weight management programs.

Drug Partnership Could Trigger Major Supply-Chain Changes 
My analysis of last week’s blockbuster Walgreens/AmerisourceBergen/Alliance Boots deal generated record traffic for Drug Channels. This Wall Street Journal article provides additional perspectives on antitrust issues, what independent pharmacies will do, and general supply chain impacts. Also recommended: Why Walgreen could win the drug war.

Highlights from Magellan Pharmacy Solutions' 2012 Medical Pharmacy & Oncology Trend Report
In Specialty Pharmacies Keep Gaining on Buy-and-Bill, I highlight Magellan Pharmacy Solution data showing buy-and-bill being displaced by specialty pharmacy providers (SPPs). In this interesting interview, Kjel A. Johnson, SVP of Strategy & Business Development at Magellan Pharmacy Solutions, provides his perspective on white bagging vs. buy-and-bill. Note his comments on outrageous health system billings, which shift drug reimbursement from Average Sales Price (ASP) to percentage of hospital charges. As I note in How Hospitals Inflate Specialty Drug Prices, this can dramatically inflate specialty drug costs. He also comments on the controversial 340B program, which I discuss in The Coming Battle Over 340B Contract Pharmacies.

Prescription needed to remedy generic drug pricing shenanigans
Just because there’s a retail pharmacy generic price war (per What Free Generic Lipitor Says about Pharmacy's Future), it still pays for consumers to shop around. This LA Times article looks at the widely varying generic prescription prices at different pharmacies. The writer seems unaware of shortage issues, which affected doxycycline prices.

CVS forces workers to reveal weight or pay up
CVS Caremark had some unflattering press about its wellness program. According to this article: “CVS will require employees to disclose their weight and other health benchmarks -- or pay $600 more for health insurance.” Reality was less sensational, but the debate and outrage does highlight an awkward issue. George van Antwerp has a good contrarian viewpoint on the news coverage in How The CVS Program Will Change The Employer – Employee Contract. You can also read CVS Caremark’s official response: About Our Voluntary Health Screening Program for Our Employees.

450-Pound Man Didn't Go To Doctor For A Lecture
The Onion, America’s Finest News Source, provides a healthy dose of reality in this wellness management case study. Pass the donuts!

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