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...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Things to Watch in 2016's Drug Channels

Whew. It was quite a year—one filled with big deals, big news, and a very memorable lap dance from the incomparable Amy Schumer! (Plus, we raised $8,000 for charity!)

Drug Channels had another big year. We now have more than 12,000 subscribers, including almost 2,400 @DrugChannels Twitter followers. In 2015, total page views will exceed 700,000—up 20% compared with 2014.

Thank you for welcoming me into your inboxes and browsers. I’ve had fun and hope you did, too. I’m grateful to our many sponsors and guest writers. Special thanks to the brave souls who joined in the spirited discussions below the articles.

Below you’ll find a bonus stocking stuffer: the Drug Channels Update: Things to Watch in 2016 slides from my recent keynote presentation to a group of trade and channel executives from pharmaceutical manufacturers. It’s a sneak peek at some of next year's likely hot topics.

Drug Channels will return in 2016! In the meantime, please enjoy a video of me dancing with Paula, my wife and business partner.

Wishing you and your family health and happiness,

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Walgreens and Valeant Devise a New Twist on Preferred Pharmacy Networks

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals just announced a very intriguing preferred pharmacy network for Valeant’s branded products. Patients and payers will pay lower prices for Valeant products that are filled at Walgreens or other to-be-named-later independent pharmacies. Read the press release. (I presume we’ll learn a lot more about the deal at Valeant’s investor meeting today.)

Read on for my observations on this novel arrangement. The deal offers clear business benefits for both companies—while helping them overcome their respective PR deficits. With this preferred network arrangement, both Valeant and WBA get to do a partial end-run around payers. What’s more, it suggests that a new marketing model for generic prescriptions could emerge.

I’m not so sure, however, that payers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) will be so enthusiastic about these channel innovations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Drug Channels News Roundup, December 2015: AmerisourceBergen, Pharmacy Pricing, AMP Final Rule, and Walgreens

December at last! It’s time for our final news roundup of 2015. Before you hit the mall, check out this hand-picked selection of notable news stories from around the Drug Channels universe.
  • AmerisourceBergen CEO Steve Collis reflects on his first four years
  • Beware! Consumers should watch out for overpriced pharmacies
  • Will Santa bring us the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) Final Rule?
Plus, the Walgreens Community Theater Players perform an unintentionally hilarious skit touting preferred pharmacies in Medicare Part D. As my kids say: LOL.

P.S. For news and other stuff that I find cool and interesting, follow @DrugChannels on Twitter.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Patient Assistance & Access Programs

PAP 2016 – 17th Patient Assistance & Access Programs
March 8-9, 2016 | Baltimore, MD

Now in its 17th year, CBI’s Patient Assistance and Access Programs PAP Meeting remains the largest and most meaningful meeting of its kind for manufacturers, co-pay foundations, non-profits, free clinics, advocacy organizations, hospitals and service providers working on meeting the needs of the uninsured and underinsured population. Join CBI for action-oriented discussions, community-based dialogue and the opportunity to weigh in on points of progress that need to transpire moving forward.

This year’s meeting provides pivotal insights from more than 60 of the nation’s leading experts on strategies for reaching beyond traditional models for patient assistance and access.

For more information, please download the complete agenda or visit www.cbinet.com/PAP. Drug Channels readers will save $400 off of the standard registration rate when they use code JQZ974.*

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rates or applied to non-profit pricing – non-profit groups should contact Roberts Apse at Roberts.Apse@cbinet.com or 339-298-2290 for special rates. All discounts are taken off the full, standard rate. 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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Five Fun Facts: The Newest Prescription Drug Spending and Payer Data

Last week, the econowonks at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2014 National Health Expenditure data, which are the definitive source for U.S. healthcare spending data. Savor the numbers in the Health Affairs article National Health Spending In 2014: Faster Growth Driven By Coverage Expansion And Prescription Drug Spending. (Free download)

In 2014, net spending on outpatient prescription drugs hit $297.7 billion. For the first time since 2009, drug spending growth exceeded national healthcare spending growth. Below, I delve into who paid for these prescription drugs. A big surprise: Public sources exceeded employer-sponsored private insurance for the first time since the 1960s.

On the plus side, due to data revisions, 2014 drug spending was $7.4 billion less than CMS had projected back in July.

Read on for my detailed look at trends in who really pays for our country's prescriptions drugs.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Five Industry Trends for U.S. Drug Wholesalers

Modern Distribution Management just published my article 2015 MDM Market Leaders | Top Pharmaceuticals Distributors. It is an excerpt from the 2015-16 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors.

Below, I republish the section highlighting five significant industry trends affecting the U.S. drug wholesaling industry. I think Drug Channels readers will enjoy this summary.

Tomorrow, I'll be giving the keynote address at CBI's 11th Trade and Channel Strategies conference. Hope to see you there!

Bonus wholesaler trivia question: In 2010, which prominent drug wholesaler CEO wanted Donald Trump to run for President? (Answer below!)

Monday, December 07, 2015

PBMI 21st Annual Drug Benefit Conference

PBMI 21st Annual Drug Benefit Conference
February 29 - March 2, 2016 | Palm Springs, CA
Location: The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa Hotel

PBMI invites you to join them next year for our 21st Annual Drug Benefit Conference.

The event will hit the ground running with an innovative opening keynote by Dr. Daniel Kraft. Dr. Kraft, a progressive physician, will examine rapidly emerging, game changing, and convergent technology trends and how they are and will be leveraged to change the face of health care and the practice of medicine in the next decade.

With more than 20 sessions, you’ll gain insight into practical and proven strategies for effectively managing the drug benefit. The conference will include three educational tracks. Check out the conference program to see who will be there.

Conference attendees can also maximize their learning experience by selecting one of two pre-conference workshops to attend. Both workshops are free of charge and will be held February 29 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm (lunch included).

Workshop A: The Total Medical Costs of the Hepatitis C Virus in Commercial and Managed Medicaid Populations
Sponsored by Primrose Healthcare

Workshop B: Delivering the Right Information to the Point of Care
Sponsored by Surescripts

Note: You must be registered for the conference to attend a workshop.

For more Information: Contact Linda DeChant at ldechant@pbmi.com.

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

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Optum, Aetna, Cigna and Prime Therapeutics Join the PBM Formulary Exclusion Party

Ronny Gal, a Senior Analyst at investment bank Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., just published an excellent analysis of the latest formulary exclusion moves by the biggest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

Ronny and his team found that four more companies—OptumRx, Aetna, Cigna, and Prime Therapeutics—will introduce or significantly expand formulary exclusions in 2016. Combined with the actions of Express and Caremark, they estimate that more than 50% of the commercial market will have access to exclusion lists.

Below is their summary of 2016 exclusion lists, by therapeutic area. Their analysis confirms my view that exclusions are the new normal. Expect continued growth in these lists, as payers scrutinize manufacturers’ copay card strategies in a post-Valeant market.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

New OIG Report Shows Hospitals’ Huge 340B Profits from Medicare-Paid Cancer Drugs

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has just released another eye-opening report on the 340B drug discount program: Part B Payments For 340B-Purchased Drugs. (Free download)

The report documents how 340B-eligible hospital outpatient departments earn tremendous profits from the Medicare Part B program. Physician offices, which also receive Part B reimbursements, are not as fortunate.

The OIG focuses on how the Medicare program could save money by sharing in these mega-profits. But as my summary chart below shows, Medicare appears to be providing incentives for shifts in cancer care treatment locations.

As usual, we don’t know if needy patients are benefiting from hospitals’ excess Medicare 340B profits. The OIG even reminds us three times in its report: “The 340B statute does not restrict how covered entities may use these funds.” Unfortunately, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s recent Omnibus Guidance didn’t bother to require that hospitals use 340B funds help the neediest patients access valuable medicines. Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.