Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Drug Channels News Roundup: August 2013

Sigh. Summer is almost over. Time to pack up our bathing suits and send the kids back to school. In the meantime, please enjoy this curated collection of curiosities, combed from the Drug Channels beach.

In this issue:
  • Look Who’s Talking—Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson explains his vision
  • Look Who’s Lobbying—A 340B vendor gets an unexpected ex-PhRMA ally
  • Look Who’s Disappointing—A post-mortem on ACOs' first year
Plus, The Onion examines America’s unquenchable thirst for prescription drugs.

Walgreen Gets a Modern Makeover
From Fortune magazine, here’s an interview with Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson. It’s helpful for understanding Walgreen’s core U.S. drugstore strategy, the notional Alliance Boots synergies (Walgreen+Alliance Boots: Questions about Global Pharmacy), and the AmerisourceBergen deal (Making Sense of ABC-Walgreens-Alliance Boots). Alas, you'll have to endure Fortune’s typical fawning interview style. (Sample question: “You're changing the very meaning of the corner drugstore. How come?” Smooch!)

Here’s Wasson discussing the Affordable Care Act. (Click here if you can't see the video.)

Billy Tauzin Rides Again, This Time Battling Against Big Pharma
This Huffington Post hit piece goes after Bill Tauzin, the former head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Tauzin now co-chairs the Medicine Access and Compliance Coalition (MACC), which represents “safety net clinics and hospitals that use the 340B drug program compliance technology platform called CUMULUS™, a CaptureRx® solution.” Hmmm. (FYI, Capture Rx is Rite Aid’s favorite 340B contract pharmacy vendor. Rite Aid has become a big 340B player, per Walgreens Dominates 340B Contract Pharmacy Mega-Networks.) I’m no fan of the Puffington Host, but the article’s author writes cogently about the 340B program. Be sure to read Bill Tauzin's response to the article.

Pioneer ACOs’ Disappointing First Year
This Health Affairs blog post tries to cut through the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) spin and assess what really happened with the Pioneer ACOs. As the author rightly notes, the ACO concept is not really new and suffers from the same limitations of previous models. If you want an even more devastating takedown of the ACO hype, read this prescient article from Wharton professors Lawton Burns and Mark Pauly: Accountable Care Organizations May Have Difficulty Avoiding The Failures Of Integrated Delivery Networks Of The 1990s. (I previously highlighted this article in the Drug Channels News Roundup: November 2012.)

70% Of Americans Take Prescription Drugs
The Onion, America’s Finest News Source, examines the news that 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two. Read the real academic paper here: Age and Sex Patterns of Drug Prescribing in a Deļ¬ned American Population. Our fellow citizens comment below.

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