Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drug Channels News Roundup: February 2012

Time for my monthly look at noteworthy news stories from hither and yonder throughout the Drug Channels universe. I hope these articles keep you busy during your extra leap day tomorrow.

In this issue:
  • More Dirty Docs—A new diversion cancer drug story
  • AARP vs. PBMs—A new target?
  • Specialty Pharmacy—A worthwhile roundtable discussion
Plus, the British Medical Journal publishes a peer-reviewed scientific research paper that analyzes "whether the acute consumption of cannabis (cannabinoids) by drivers increases the risk of a motor vehicle collision." Can you guess the shocking answer?

Drug supplier admits distributing unapproved foreign medications 
Here’s another sad story of physicians who are supporting criminal behavior in the U.S. drug supply chain. According to this story of an unlicensed distributor: “The company sent ads to doctors offering big discounts — an average of 40 percent — on expensive drugs while requesting that the doctors keep the price list ‘confidential.’” And the really sick part? “Federal court documents here say that as many as 60 doctors bought unapproved chemotherapy drugs.” As I wrote in Greedy Physicians Invite Fake Avastin Into the Supply Chain, that's just foolish, irresponsible, and unethical behavior by medical practices.

Off the Patent Cliff
The AARP continues to go after pharmaceutical companies by pumping out misleading drug price studies. (See Myths and Facts about Drug Prices for background.) Now, AARP is turning its attention to PBMs by focusing on Pfizer’s Lipitor post-LOE managed care contracting strategies. What’s particularly amusing is the way that an independent pharmacy group (PUTT) and the PBM trade association (PCMA) both seem united in their dislike of pharmaceutical manufacturers’ tactics. The enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Specialty Pharmacy Roundtable 2011
Check out Drug Store News’ informative discussion with executives from major specialty pharmacies. There is an especially good back-and-forth conversation on channel management strategies and the coming convergence of specialty and retail pharmacy sectors, a topic covered in the 2011-12 Economic Report on Retail and Specialty Pharmacies. One quibble: The participants are seated at a long, straight table.

Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis
Yes, this is a legitimate scientific paper. The completely unexpected conclusion? “Acute cannabis consumption is associated with an increased risk of a motor vehicle crash, especially for fatal collisions.” LOL! Dude, where’s my car?


  1. Um, not exactly, we had no control over how the spot was edited. I find it hilarious that PCMA still cries foul when the manufacturer gives the patient the rebate (copay card) instead of the PBM (formulary tier kickback).

  2. Yes, I realize that it was edited. It's just curious that PUTT's anti-PBM message was trumped by the AARP's anti-pharma narrative.

  3. The link to the scientific paper caused me to wonder, what about "chronic" usage? (Rimshot)

  4. The link to the scientific paper caused me to wonder, what about "chronic" usage? (Rimshot) 

  5. I can't speak for PUTT, but my understanding is they are not an anti-PBM organization as a matter of fact I think they are very supportive of TRANSPARENT PBM's (by the way a transparent PBM would pass rebate moneys straight to plan sponsors instead of putting it into their own coffers). I believe the important part of the picture is non-transparent PBM / pharmaceutical manufacturer deals that put money in the PBM's pocket at the expense of the plan sponsor, this only drives up health care costs for everyone and adds no value to the health care system.

  6. So I went to the St. Louis paper to read the story about the unapproved foreign drugs distribution.  One of the docs mentioned is a local oncologist, so I googled her.  And there she is on HealthGrades as a five-star oncologist, with no mention of sanctions or trouble with the law.   At least the stories show up, albeit not first, about her guilty plea.
    So much for those doctor rating sites.  Not only are they full of information not entirely relevant to quality of care, but they apparently don’t bother to keep up with random developments involving law enforcement.