Thursday, February 27, 2014

Drug Channels News Roundup: February 2014

Our neverending winter is almost over! Get ready for an early spring with my monthly look at noteworthy new stories from the Drug Channels universe. In this issue:
  • Hospitals Enter Specialty Pharmacy—Money on their Mind?
  • PBMs and Health Plans—Buy or Build?
  • New York joins the AAC Revolution—Done right?
  • More Specialty Pharmacy Consolidation—Surprise? (No, not really.)
Plus, a really funny video about conference calls.

P.S. If you can’t wait for our monthly news updates, then join the twittering hordes following @Drug Channels.

Specialty Pharmacy Networks for Hospitals in the Offing
The specialty market’s projected growth is drawing pharmacies into the business of dispensing specialty drugs. In Chapter 8 of the 2013-14 Economic Report on Retail, Mail, and Specialty Pharmacies, I discuss how integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and health systems are developing their own specialty pharmacies. This article provides more details on this trend. As I told P&T, these hospital groups have “money on their mind.” The opportunity to grab some sweet 340B discounts is a big driver, especially since most hospitals won't share the 340B savings with poor patients.

Insurer’s PBM Investments Reflect Quest For Control, Data Edge to Bolster Margins
Health Business Daily looks at the pros and cons of health plans operating an in-house pharmacy benefit manager. The article has some useful insights on UnitedHealth’s OptumRx and Humana’s RightSource businesses. For my take on a health plan’s choices, see Catamaran Sails Away with Cigna’s PBM: Deal Analysis.

The New York Average Acquisition Cost – AAC Done Right
New York just became the seventh state to switch to an average acquisition cost (AAC) pharmacy reimbursement method. This article from First Databank highlights three key differences from other states: 1) mandatory participation, 2) weighting the responses, and 3) including off-invoice discounts. First DataBank's involvement highlights how alternative benchmarks are going mainstream. For background on AAC surveys, see pages 83-87 of our latest economic report.

Hy-Vee Acquires Amber Pharmacy
Specialty pharmacy consolidation claimed another independent. Grocery chain Hy-Vee bought Amber Pharmacy, which was #4 on our list of the 12 fastest-growing, private specialty pharmacies. In Three New Specialty Pharmacy Deals Signal The Boom Ahead, we highlighted Pharmaerica’s deal with Onco360 (#5 on the list). Specialty M&A will accelerate. Look for many more deals in the months ahead.

A Conference Call in Real Life
While this video is not technically pharma-related, I personally LOLed. Hat tip to Keith W. (You can stop watching at 3:24, when the advertisement starts.) Click here if you can’t see the video.



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