Thursday, September 15, 2011

Drug Channels News Roundup: September 2011

Autumn is just around the corner. So, put down that acorn and check out these noteworthy news stories from the Drug Channels universe, hand-selected for your reading pleasure. In this issue:
  • Hospitals criticize Bristol-Myers Squibb’s limited distribution model for Yervoy
  • A whistleblower tattles on Walgreen’s alleged attempt to reap millions in extra generic profits from Par Pharma products
  • Prime Therapeutics starts to compete harder for PBM business
Plus, The Onion profiles two nostalgic medical researchers.

Who Benefits From Restricted Distribution?
This article has a fascinating set of comments from hospital pharmacy directors complaining about a limited distribution model for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE:BMS) Yervoy (ipilimumab) that excludes Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), a major prime vendor for many hospitals. It’s a timely reminder to manufacturers about the complex nuances of a specialty drug's commercial strategy. You must communicate with physicians, pharmacy directors, and other stakeholders to succeed—and not leave yourself vulnerable to a future rival.

Hard to Swallow: Walgreens Wrote “One Liners” to Sell Illegal Price Hikes to Patients
According to an unsealed whistleblower lawsuit, Walgreens allegedly tried to switch consumers away from the tablet version of generic Zantac (ranitidine) because it had a Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) while the capsule version did not. One exhibit (reproduced in the article) apparently shows a slide from Par Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:PRX) computing how Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) could increase profit per prescription from $4.21 to $71.45. A word of warning: Muckraking blogger Jim Edwards at BNET never misses an opportunity to bash anyone related to the pharmaceutical industry, whether they deserve it or not. Caveat lector.

Highlights From the Prime Therapeutics 2010 Drug Trend Report
George Van Antwerp provides a nice summary of the just-released Prime Therapeutics 2011 Drug Trend Insights. The report shows Prime more clearly positioning itself in the PBM marketplace per my July comments about the ESRX-MHS deal. Be sure to see page 5 of the report, which shows Prime’s trend vs. a competitor average plus an “adjusted competitor average.” Prime writes: “Comparison across different PBMs can thus be challenging (even folly, according to some observers).” I was flattered to notice the citation for folly: Is Caremark really better at managing drug trend?

Nostalgic Scientists Rediscover Polio Vaccine
Here’s an inspiring story about brave researchers from the NYU Medical Center. Another important pharmaceutical story from The Onion, America’s Finest News Source.

1 comment:

  1. GaragekarateSeptember 27, 2011


    Tattler?  Muckraker?  It's called checks and balances.  And it works primarily because the industry historically champions profits over patients. Walgreens will be just fine, after they pay the just fine.

    You're better than that...