Drug Channels delivers timely analysis and provocative opinions from Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., the country's foremost expert on pharmaceutical economics and the drug distribution system. Drug Channels reaches an engaged, loyal and growing audience of nearly 100,000 subscribers and followers. Learn more...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Express Scripts Talks About Its Pure-Play PBM Strategy, Deals Not Done, and Walgreens

Yesterday, Express Scripts held its latest quarterly call. (See links below for materials.) Along with the usual corporate yada yada yada, the call provided intriguing insights about Express Scripts' strategy and the PBM business model.

Express Scripts addressed its stand-alone PBM model (apparently awesome), likelihood of acquiring a retail chain (nil), recent evaluation of a “strategic transaction” (Catamaran?), and relationship with Walgreens (surprisingly positive).

Below, I provide highlights of the call along with my commentary. It’s sponge-worthy reading for anyone interested in the future of PBMs and the pharmacy industry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

News Roundup, April 2015: CVS Health, Express Scripts, 340B, Generic Inflation, and More

Spring has finally reached Drug Channels' worldwide headquarters! Before your allergies start acting up, please enjoy this month’s selection of news stories from the Drug Channels universe.

In this issue:
  • What happens when CVS Health Larry Merlo gives a TED talk?
  • Has the 340B Drug Pricing Program Lost Its Way?
  • Are Express Scripts’ formulary deals anticompetitive?
  • Will generic drug inflation slow?
Plus, a very clever video spoof of every TV news report on the economy. Awesome!

P.S. Help me impress my teenage children by following @Drug Channels on Twitter. As a bonus, you'll get my hand-selected daily updates on notable news and analysis.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meet Paula at #Armada15 and Learn How You Can Reach the Drug Channels Audience

Hey there, Drug Channels reader! Want to share your company’s ideas and vision with fellow readers?

Then try a Sponsored Guest Post. These bylined posts let you deliver your thought leadership message directly to the Drug Channels community. They are especially valuable for launching new products and services, because our sponsors can communicate unfiltered messages to our community.

Get further details by emailing Paula Fein, (paula@drugchannelsinstitute.com) Drug Channels Institute’s VP of Business Development (and, yes, also my wife). If you’ll be at next week’s 2015 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit, email Paula and set up a meeting.

If you're curious about our reader stats, download the 2015 Drug Channels Media Kit.

In the meantime, check out the fun picture below of Paula and me at last year’s Armada Summit. See you there!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Automating Specialty Pharmacy Workflow #Armada15

Today’s guest post comes from our friends at Armada Health Care. They describe Armada Health Care’s new web-based software platform for optimizing specialty pharmacy operations, managing prescription workflow, and improving overall patient management.

Read on for highlights. Full details will be revealed at the upcoming 2015 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit. If you’ll be there (and I hope you will be), stop by Armada’s booth #313 and learn more about this new product.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More Specialty Consolidation: Cardinal Health Buys Metro Medical (EXCLUSIVE)

Cardinal Health just acquired Metro Medical, the largest independent specialty distributor. There was no public announcement—unless you count my @DrugChannels tweet yesterday morning. So,  today's article counts as another Drug Channels exclusive.

It’s a great move for Cardinal, which dramatically expands its small specialty distribution business while gaining access to new practice settings. The Metro deal also puts Cardinal a little closer to the specialty businesses of AmerisourceBergen and McKesson. Below, I provide a few details about specialty distribution market share, Cardinal’s position, and the mysterious Metro Medical.

Hmmm, I wonder if Express Scripts will ever spin off its CuraScript SD business? I can think of at least one Midwestern company that would happily buy it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Walgreens Boots Alliance: Analysis of its New U.S. Pharmacy Strategy

Last week, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) held its first analyst day as a combined company. Click here to download the slides and transcripts. (More detailed links below.)

WBA is a complex, global business with three major divisions and annual revenues of nearly $125 billion. Hence, the analyst “day” was a 2-day, 12 hour affair in which management presented 282 slides and generated a 125 page transcript!

Never fear, Drug Channels reader. I scoured every ounce of this material to find you the most valuable kernels. Below, I highlight my observations about WBA’s Retail Pharmacy USA division, a.k.a. Walgreens. My themes include the U.S. businesses’ changing focus, hypercompetition in the pharmacy industry, payer relationships, specialty pharmacy strategy, previous management’s missteps, and more. Read on for the sweet and salty details.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The @eyeforpharma Oncology Summit: Registration Deadline (and Special Discount) This Week

6th Annual Stakeholder Conference on Oncology Market Access & Pricing 2015 
June 15-16 | Boston, MA

You know it and have read it here before: Market access in oncology is no longer guaranteed. This means that innovative manufacturers need to collaborate with managed care to provide real value. There are few occasions where pharma leaders meet the key stakeholders – eyeforpharma’s 6th Annual Oncology Summit on June 15-16 is the Number One out there, and here’s why:


These are just a few program highlights to help you succeed in the shifting market:
  • Peter Sandor, VP, Global Marketing, Amgen, shows how to realize the critical success factors in small patient markets and prepare for launch excellence.
  • Sue Naeyaert, Head, Global Pricing and Market Access, Merck Biosimilars, guides us through recent developments in EU & US biosimilars and outlines the key drivers for market success.
  • Ted Okon, Exec. Director, Community Oncology Alliance, will be joined by payors and providers to offer stakeholder reactions to the changes in the site-of-care market.
  • Ana Cespedes, SVP, Global Market Access and Pricing, EMD, discusses the integration of specialty drugs in the new payment models.
  • Kevin O’Leary, VP, Strategic Pricing and Reimbursement, Bayer, demonstrates Bayer's systematic use of co-pay support and assistance programs in the US.
  • Edward J Benz, President and CEO, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, tells us what endpoints managed care really “cares” about.


Attendees learn as much from the world-class speaking faculty as they learn from their peers. Recent registrants include:
  • Executive Chairman - Cancer Trust Centers of America
  • Executive Director Oncology - Merck
  • Senior Director - McKesson
  • Director - Specialty Pharmacy Strategy & Innovation, Pfizer
  • Director - Market Access Strategy & Pricing, Oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Chief Medical Officer – Roche Diagnostics
  • Director - Global Pricing & Market Access, Gilead Sciences

We’ve already confirmed dozens senior participants from: Aetna / American Cancer Society/ Amgen / Bayer / Community Oncology Alliance / Dana Farber / Eisai / Genentech / Gilead / Health Strategies Group / Merck / Millennium / Monitor Deloitte / Novartis / Precision for Value / Premier / RAND / Roche / Takeda…

For those who like to stay ahead of the curve in Commercial Oncology, this is a must-attend.


The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Addressing the Challenges of Non-Adherence

Today’s guest post comes from Magnar Kvilhaug, RPh, MBA and Kathleen Kvilhaug RPh, of Odin Pharmacy Innovations.

They describe AppaGrapha, a new free mobile app for improving patient adherence to drug therapy. This intriguing app allows patients to monitor their own therapy, provides feedback on adherence, confidentially shares data with a healthcare provider or pharmacist, and more. Details below. Android users can download the free AppaGrapha mobile app here. The iOS version will be available soon.

For more details about AppaGrapha, email Magnar Kvilhaug or Kathleen Kvilhaug. You can also visit them in booth #326 at the upcoming 2015 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Retail Generic Drug Inflation Eases, but the FDA Keeps Prices High

Retail generic drugs usually get cheaper over time, but my previous analyses have documented substantial generic inflation. Our latest exclusive investigation, however, finds that generic inflation may be easing.

During the first quarter of 2015, generic drug price increases were low compared with our two most recent examinations. We also found no drugs with mega-increases (exceeding 1,000%).

While inflation has slowed, generic drugs that have experienced cost increases haven’t necessarily become cheaper. As I show below, the actions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have prevented new supply from entering the market.

But as the FDA’s backlog of 4,000 applications starts to clear, generic costs will start deflating. Until then, expect some generics to remain costly and inflation to continue.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Commercial Contracts & Chargeback Management

11th Commercial Contracts & Chargeback Management
June 22-23, 2015 | Philadelphia, PA

CBI’s 11th Commercial Contracts & Chargeback Management forum focuses on ways to improve the wholesaler chargeback, manufacturer profitability and GPO membership maintenance. Gain strategies and tools for streamlining these important processes and, ultimately, retaining more revenue for the organization.

Industry thought leaders from Amerinet, Inc, Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson, King & Spalding, LLP, McKesson Corporation, Novo Nordisk and more will present viewpoints on how to:
  • Streamline and automate contract and chargeback administration
  • Assess challenges related to receiving 340B entity reconciliation
  • Validate contract price eligibility through the EDI chargeback process
  • Certify membership and oversee terms of contracts
  • Minimize revenue leakage or overpayment of chargebacks
  • Respond to drug shortage's negative impact on pricing
Visit www.cbinet.com/chargebacks for more information. Drug Channels readers will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code PYE386.*

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rates. Other restrictions may apply.

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Insights from the Electronic Prior Authorization (ePA) National Adoption Scorecard

Today’s guest post comes from Perry Lewis, VP of Industry Relations at CoverMyMeds.

Perry discusses results from CoverMyMeds’ new Electronic Prior Authorization (ePA) National Adoption Scorecard. For those who don’t know, ePA connects all participants to provide real-time information for the PA decision-making process.

Perry explains which industry sectors are adopting ePA, discusses how ePA adoption affects different industry stakeholders, and describes how to pick the best ePA solution. He provides interesting insights on healthcare’s interconnected, technology-enabled future.

To learn more about CoverMyMeds or the Electronic Prior Authorization (ePA) National Adoption Scorecard, email Perry Lewis. You can also meet up with CoverMyMeds National Sales Director, Matthew Coyle, at the 2015 Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit. Email Matthew to arrange a meeting.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Two Important Updates on Zarxio and Biosimilar Reimbursement

In Zarxio: How Channel Dynamics Will Limit the First U.S. Biosimilar, I argue that reimbursement and channel dynamics will slow adoption for Zarxio. Zarxio, a provider-administered specialty drug, is a non-interchangeable biosimilar of Amgen’s Neupogen.

Today, let’s catch up on two important items regarding reimbursement for biosimilars:
  • In my original article, I didn’t mention the Affordable Care Act’s special reimbursement formula, which provides additional reimbursement for the biosimilar. Below, I explain this methodology and provide a mathematical example using Neupogen and Zarxio.
  • Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a brief Q&A with new details on biosimilars. Highlights below.
Taken together, this information still supports my original conjectures about a moderate pace for adoption for biosimilars paid under the medical benefit—and implies some manufacturer pricing strategies that could influence adoption..

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Will Walgreens Boots Alliance Buy Rite Aid?

Believe it or not, a crazy rumor about a Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA)-Rite Aid transaction is making the rounds on Wall Street.

The rumor accelerated after recent comments by Stefano Pessina, WBA’s acting CEO and current global channels overlord. (See the Reuters article below.) Below, I highlight other recent articles that are feeding the rumor, along with perspective from two reputable investment banks.

I'm skeptical that such a deal will happen, especially because there are other logical acquisition targets (AmerisourceBergen, Diplomat Pharmacy, ULTA Beauty). But given Pessina’s track record and ambitions, we can’t ignore the possibility.

Read on and see if you agree. In case you are wondering: this is not an April Fool's post.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Join Me at the Pharmacy Channel Strategies for Specialty Products Conference

Pharmacy Channel Strategies for Specialty Products
June 23-24, 2015 | Philadelphia, PA

CBI’s Pharmacy Channel Strategies for Specialty Products is designed for key specialty stakeholders to deep dive into the collaboration between specialty pharmacies, retail pharmacies, hospital systems and bio/pharma manufacturers. Join the crowd this June to stay ahead of the curve and optimize your network to ensure patient access and adherence! Visit www.cbinet.com/pharmacychannel for more information.

Don’t miss the chance to gain insight form prominent stakeholders and thought leaders, including:
  • Adam J. Fein, Ph.D. President, Pembroke Consulting, Inc.; CEO, Drug Channels Institute
  • William Roth, Founding Partner, Blue Fin Group
  • Bruce Phelan, Principal Consultant, Blue Fin Group
  • Ray Tancredi, Vice President, Specialty Pharmacy, Walgreens
  • Mark Montgomery, President and CEO, Axium Healthcare Pharmacy
  • Greg Drew, R.Ph., President, Value Drug Company
Drug Channels readers will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code ETZ345.* Register today!

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rates. Other restrictions may apply.

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Rite Aid Acquires Candy Maker, Launches New Rewards Program

Wow, the hits keep coming. This morning, Rite Aid announced its acquisition of Just Born, the privately-held Bethlehem, PA, company best known for making delicious Marshmallow Peeps. Read the press release.

To coincide with the deal, Rite Aid also announced a new Peepness+ rewards program. This program unites the drugstore’s front-end and pharmacy sales by allowing consumers to earn Peepness+ "mallow points." The points never expire, so customers can use accrued benefits throughout their lifetime.

The program arrives just in time for the spring candy harvest. Here’s what Troy McClure, Rite Aid's VP of Tobacco, Candy, and Snack Chips (TCSC)  told me: “We want to build a lifetime relationship with our customers. For instance, you’ll earn points whenever you spend more than $9.75 on any avian or leporid Peeps marshmallows. Later, when you become an insulin-dependent diabetic, you can redeem your mallow points at our pharmacy.”

Added McClure: “At Rite Aid, we have long viewed candy products, and really the whole TCSC category, as essential to establishing our drugstores as true healthcare destinations.”

Folks, here’s another powerful example of fauxversification. Read on for my competitive analysis of the drugstore industry’s latest innovation.