Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Drug Channels News Roundup: March 2014

Get ready for spring by staying inside and reading our latest selection of noteworthy Drug Channels news stories.

In this issue:
  • Bigger—AmerisourceBergen joins the fun in Brazil
  • Badder—Good video on drug costs at hospitals vs. cancer clinics
  • Madder—Oncologists dislike becoming hospital employees
  • Sadder?—States are trying to eliminate specialty drug tiers
Plus, The Onion helps you fill out the rest of your 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket. Win a billion dollars yet?

P.S. Birds aren’t the only things that are tweeting. Follow @Drug Channels for regular updates on news stories that catch our eye.

AmerisourceBergen Acquires Minority Interest in Profarma Distribuidora de Produtos FarmacĂȘuticos S.A.
With this transaction, ABC gains a foothold in Brazil, one the largest global pharma markets. The era of global drug distribution is officially here. McKesson now owns Celesio, one of the Big Three EU wholesalers. Recall that Celesio owns Oncoprod, a Brazilian specialty distributor. Cardinal Health is growing quickly in China. Alliance Boots being acquired by (or is acquiring?) Walgreens, which has a minority equity interest in ABC. CVS now owns a small Brazilian pharmacy chain. Time for your faithful correspondent to start learning some foreign languages!

Hospitals being overpaid for medical treatment?
Fox News (really?) did a mostly accurate story on hospital’s big mark-ups compared with physician practices. Once again, we see that hospitals can generate more revenue from specialty drug administration than can independent physician-owned clinics. The video clip is worth three minutes of your time. (Click here if you can’t see the video.) For a more data-based perspective on the same story, see in Attention, Hospital Shoppers: Cancer Markup Madness  and How Hospitals Inflate Specialty Drug Prices.



From Private Practice to Hospital Employee
Given the economics described in the video above, health systems are acquiring oncology practices and shifting care to the hospital outpatient practices. Hospitals’ ability to use 340B discounts has driven this site-of-care shift. So, what’s it like to go from being an oncology business owner to a hospital employee? Apparently, it sucks, according to the two oncologists featured in this article. The photo of a frowning physician is a nice touch.

Waging War on Specialty Pharmaceutical Tiering In Pharmacy Benefit Design
Here’s a thoughtful white paper on of 1) patients’ huge out-of-pocket burdens for the newest specialty therapies and 2) state legislative responses to these costs. As the author notes: “[E]ight states have sought a complete ban on any plan design that contains over a three-tiered pharmacy benefit, effectively forbidding specialty tiers. Currently, New York is the only state to have legislation that places a complete ban on specialty tiers. An additional nine states have sought to impose caps on the OOP expenditures allowed for pharmaceuticals in health insurance plans or to link pharmaceutical OOP payments to the overall plan deductible.” Keep an eye on this trend.

Tips For Filling Out Your Bracket
LOL. ‘nuff said.

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