Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Drug Channels News Roundup: January 2013

Baltimore vs. San Francisco! Brother vs. Brother! Buffalo wings vs. Nachos! Yup, it’s time for a weekend of blow-out commercials, occasionally interrupted by a football game. Hope you’ve been training all season to gorge at the Super Bowl-party level. But before you indulge, check out this month’s notable news stories from around the Drug Channels universe.
  • Trick play: Walmart will offer primary care…or not?
  • Sacking the bad guys: How Pfizer pfights pfakes
  • Ask Manti Te’o: Are generics really the same as brands?
Plus, the White House responds to a Death Star petition, while an anti-preferred pharmacy network petition flops.

Wal-Mart tries to roll back what company VP said about offering primary care
File this story under strange-but-true misadventures in public relations. At a January conference, Marcus Osborne, VP of health and wellness payer relations for Wal-Mart Stores, talked about the company’s “broader health services strategy focused on the introduction of full primary care services over the next five to seven years.” A Wal-Mart spokesperson issued a quick denial, but an intrepid reporter caught Mr. Osborne’s comments on tape. Given the perspective outlined in Wal-Mart Explains Its Healthcare Strategy, I wouldn't be surprised by a Wal-mart announcement. However, Wal-mart has underinvested in its healthcare strategy, so I’m skeptical about their follow-through ability.

Inside Pfizer's Fight Against Counterfeit Drugs
Here’s an enlightening article about Pfizer’s Sisyphean efforts to stop the counterfeit drug trade. The article looks behind the scenes at Pfizer’s internal efforts to battle online sellers. Unfortunately, the article also highlights a sad truth about anti-counterfeiting efforts: if consumers, pharmacists, and physicians stopped purchasing outside legitimate channels, there would be no fake drug problem in the United States. Oh well.

Are generics really the same as branded drugs?
Pharma industry muckraker Katherine Eban is back with a look the unfortunate case of generic Wellbutrin and the bioequivalence challenges for narrow therapeutic index drugs. In 2009, Ms. Eban wrote almost the same article for SELF magazine. The new article sort-of implies that we should be worried about all generic drugs, but that conclusion is not supported broadly by the scientific data. I presume that PhRMA sent her a fruit basket or something.

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For
You may have heard about We the People, a website where ordinary citizens can petition the Obama administration. If your petition gets enough votes, you get an official response. Well, some yuksters started a petition to “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” After 34,435 signatures, the White House responded with the amusing This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For. Apparently, “The Administration does not support blowing up planets.” Yeah, whatever.

Meanwhile, the petition “Abolish PREFERRED Medicare Part D Plans that leave out Independent Pharmacies” garnered a mere 861 signatures since January 3. Too little, too late, judging by Brand New 2013 Part D Data: Nearly Half of Enrollees Chose Preferred Pharmacy Networks.

Here’s Jon Stewart’s take on the petitions. Click here if you can’t see the video.

1 comment:

  1. In terms of "skeptical about Walmart's followthrough ability", that touches a bit of a hot button with me.  As a recent multi-visit purchaser of Walmart telcom services over the last few months, while Walmart can negotiate and deliver a decent on-shelf product, their ability to actually deliver a service in-store in my anecdotal experience has been horrible.  It appears to be hard for them to get line employees to actually show up and/or do their jobs and/or know what they're talking about. (The one manager I dealt with was decent.) I didn't want "great/non-commodity service"; I was already pretty knowledgeable; I just wanted them to sell me a product+service I had already determined I wanted and was appropriate and they were really fumbling to deliver that.  (On the upside, there's a lot of room for them to increase their business value if they could get their act together.) They had both out-of-stock situations, gave wrong/misleading information, and didn't have anyone manning their service desks when I arrived leading to waits of anywhere from 10-45 minutes. Phone calls and web visits to head off further wasted time also took time...  the price of the (Walmart) service may be cheap but beware the externalities of the customer's time to get serviced!  (Still cheaper than Verizon though!)  I am not sure a service business is really in their wheelhouse.  I haven't tried their actual banking or other "front of store" services however; perhaps those are organized differently(?).