Thursday, June 26, 2014

Drug Channels News Roundup, June 2014: CVS Caremark, Humana, 340B, Catamaran, and Burman’s

It's World Cup time! While you're waiting to leave work early for today's U.S.-Germany game, get a kick out of the latest noteworthy news nuggets from the Drug Channels pitch. In this issue:
  • Will CVS Caremark's 2015 formulary exclusion list contain 200 drugs?
  • Will Humana sell its PBM?
  • What’s behind Burman’s success as a major HCV specialty pharmacy?
  • WTF is going on with the 340B orphan drug rule?
Plus, The Wall Street Journal discloses Catamaran CEO Mark Thierer's surprising hobby.

Health Insurers Pressing Down on Drug Prices, The New York Times
This NYT article focuses on third party payers' efforts to control drug costs. The article's bottom half contains this bombshell from Jon Roberts, who heads CVS Caremark's PBM business: "Mr. Roberts said CVS next year would offer an optional formulary with 200 exclusions." Yikes! Even the normally anti-pharma New York Times frets: "don’t block patients from medicines they need when an alternative is not adequate." For context and background, see Express Scripts and the Inevitability of Formulary Exclusion.

Humana Pharmacy Benefit Unit Sale Could Fetch up to $7B, The Street
In case you hadn’t heard, Humana is actively looking at “strategic alternatives” for its PBM business. This video provides a decent overview of the issue. My $0.02: I expect Humana to follow the Cigna/Aetna model and selectively outsource certain functions. Humana's challenge will be to find the right partner, given the industry's many overlapping and conflicting relationships. Read Catamaran Sails Away with Cigna’s PBM: Deal Analysis for my overview of Humana’s options.

Click here if you can’t see the video.



Specialty Therapy Management: A Pharmacy’s Strategic Vision, ComputerTalk for the Pharmacist
Here’s a neat story about Burman’s Pharmacy, a family-owned independent pharmacy that has built a major hepatitis C business in the mid-Atlantic (Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania). The article describes the creation and operation of HealthTrac, its custom-built clinical treatment management software platform. Burman’s embodies entrepreneurial success in the booming specialty pharmacy market. Keep an eye on this company.

HRSA “Interprets” Its Enjoined 340 Orphan Drug Rule into Effect, Health Law & Policy Matters
Mintz Levin attorney Ellyn L. Sternfield penned an especially straightforward explanation of the legal wrangling around the 340B orphan drug rule. Ms. Sternfield drolly notes: “So HRSA was enjoined from implementing its orphan drug rule, ignored a court invitation to present an alternative justification for the rule as interpretive, but now considers the rule in effect because it has decreed the rule is interpretive. I am sure the race to the courthouse has already begun.” Well said, but a sad commentary on how our government views pesky impediments like the “rule of law” and the "separation of powers."

These CEOs Have Some Unexpected Hobbies: Stickers, Anyone? The Wall Street Journal
Golf? Yachts? Art? Yawn. Would you believe…stickers? According to this apparently legitimate Wall Street Journal cover story, Catamaran CEO Mark Thierer “has amassed more than 50,000 so far and has sorted them into specially designed boxes organized by eight themes including animals, food and sports.” Kudos to Mr. Thierer for showing us that CEOs are people, too. Hmmm, what can your friendly-neighborhood blogger do to merit a personalized sticker card?

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