Thursday, November 05, 2015

Drug Channels News Roundup, November 2015: Walgreens Boots Alliance, Diplomat Pharmacy, CVS Health, and Aetna (sort of)

Given last week’s big news, I had to skip my usual monthly news roundup. This selection may be a bit tardy, but the articles are certified fresh:
  • A revealing interview with Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina
  • The CEO and CFO of Diplomat Pharmacy both defend the specialty pharmacy industry with clarity and wit
  • CVS Health argues for pharmacy-health system partnerships
Plus, Aetna allows newlyweds to register for medical procedures. Now, that’s disruptive innovation!

P.S. For timely updates on stuff that I find cool and interesting, follow @DrugChannels on Twitter.

Walgreens chief: 'There are many things we have to change', Crain’s Chicago Business
Over the past few years, Brigid Sweeney at Crain’s has been one of the sharpest reporters on Walgreens. In this interview, Brigid gets Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina to open up about the company’s strategy and position. Here’s a quote that caught my eye:
”Pharmacy has been squeezed over time, and we've had very good results in the last 20 years, mainly thanks to the front of the stores and the marketing strategies,” Pessina said. “We believe the front of the stores will be an opportunity for us (in the U.S.) But there are many things we have to change.”
That doesn’t sound like someone who wants to buy a PBM.

Q3 2015 Diplomat Pharmacy Earnings Call, Seeking Alpha
Quarterly financial reports don’t have to boring. Just check out Diplomat Pharmacy’s third quarter earnings call.

Diplomat CEO Phil Hagerman kicked off the call with an articulate and cogent discussion of the specialty pharmacy industry. It’s a great counterpoint to the nonsense that’s been spewed about so-called specialty pharmacy Philidor. He went so far as to note that specialty pharmacy is “not in the business of toenail fungus and teenage acne.” You don’t say!

This prompted the following unusual exchange:
Stephen Valiquette, Analyst, UBS: You alluded to this a little bit when you clarified that you don't focus on drugs for toenail fungus and teenage acne, but maybe just, even though it is hopefully obvious to most people who follow the company at this point, can you confirm on this call that you're mix of product revenues from manufacturer, Valeant, are probably pretty close to 0% of your total mix, just to confirm that out loud, would maybe not hurt?
Sean Whelan, CFO, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy: Yes, Steve, they round to approximately 0.00%.
As my teenagers say: LOL!

My $0.02 on this topic appears in Valeant, Philidor RX, and the Uninformed Attack on Specialty Pharmacy.

A Case for Why Health Systems Should Partner with Pharmacies, Harvard Business Review
Professor turned CVS Health executive William Shrank explains the five ways that health systems can improve outcomes by partnering with pharmacies. Despite a healthy dose of PR puffery, the article is still worthwhile.

New Aetna Wedding Registry Lets Guests Purchase Medical Procedures Couple Picked Out, The Onion
Another great scoop from The Onion, America’s Finest News Source.

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