Thursday, May 23, 2013

Drug Channels News Roundup: May 2013

Summer is just around the corner. Time to clean the barbecue and start grilling! In the meantime, enjoy my latest selection of noteworthy news stories from the Drug Channels universe.

In this issue:
  • Skewered—Ranbaxy was naughtier than you thought (MUST READ)
  • Smoky—340B is worse than you imagined
  • Tasty—Duane Reade is more innovative than you think
  • Grilled—Walgreen’s SmartD Part D plan was also naughty
Plus, SNL highlights an important new indication for Xanax, just in time for the summer wedding season.

P.S. Before you enjoy the long weekend, please consider a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Dirty Medicine
Katherine Eban, renowned pharma industry muckraker, is back with this must-read profile of nefarious goings-on at Ranbaxy. As always, Eban tells a good story with startling facts and quotes. As she writes: “Executives approached the regulatory system as an obstacle to be gamed. They bragged about who had most artfully deceived regulators.” Or how about quality problems with AIDS medicines in Africa? One Ranbaxy executive reportedly said: “Who cares? It's just blacks dying." Whoa. Dinesh Thakur, the key whistleblower against Ranbaxy, just started an interesting blog.

Cost Consequences of the 340B Drug Discount Program
This Journal of the American Medical Association article argues that hospitals, clinics, and physicians are financially benefiting from the 340B drug discount program at the expense of manufacturers and patients. It’s a well-stated, cogent argument from a respected peer-reviewed journal. For related themes, check out my op-ed Hospitals twist prescription assistance program for their own benefit.

The Re-Education of Duane Reade: A Drugstore as Retail, Therapy
Here’s a fascinating peek at the future of retail drugstores, courtesy of Duane Reade’s makeover. From “calming colors” to wider aisles, this article breaks down the keys to retail success. Does your drugstore have amenities like a sushi, an in-store nail and hair salon, and hologram floor greeter?

Notice of Immediate Imposition of Intermediate Sanctions (Suspension of Enrollment and Marketing) for Prescription Drug Plan Contract Number: S0064
According to this CMS letter: “In its short tenure as a Part D sponsor, Smart has experienced widespread failures in numerous important operational areas.” The letter has all the gory details. As a reminder, the SmartD Rx plans attracted a mere 0.3% of total Part D open enrollment (per my analysis of the Final 2013 Part D Data). These SmartD plans are offered by RxAlly, a new pharmacy group that claims to have about 14,000 independent pharmacies plus Walgreens drugstores. Walgreens is the major investor behind RxAlly and SmartD. Ouch.

New Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings
Click here if you can’t see the video.

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