Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Drug Channels News Roundup, May 2020: COVID-19 and Formularies, Retail-to-Mail Trends, ABC on Biosimilars, and Social Distancing the CVS Way

FWIW: Summer is finally here. Before you venture outside for your lockdown barbeque, check out these noteworthy items off the Drug Channels grill:
  • Payers predict how COVID-19 will affect formularies
  • Our analysis of the 2020 retail-to-mail shift
  • AmerisourceBergen profiles biosimilars
Plus, CVS pharmacy offers a clever way to measure appropriate social distancing.

P.S. Join the nearly 9,400 followers of my curated links to neat stuff at @DrugChannels on Twitter. My recent tweets have highlighted: hospital profits, drug spending, prior authorization at specialty pharmacies, legal issues for drug importation, private equity funding for a start-up PBM, physicians vs. PBMs, trends in Google Trends, and more. I continue to tweet under-the-radar stories about how the coronavirus is affecting drug channels and healthcare spending.

Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19 on the Pharmaceutical Market (May 8, 2020), IQVIA

In late April, IQVIA surveyed representatives from 43 U.S. payers. Here’s their take on how COVID-19 will affect formulary access decisions and utilization management:

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As you can see, payers expect tighter formularies, greater patient cost-sharing obligations, higher rebates, and more exclusions.

The payers’ responses regarding premium increases seems odd to me. Healthcare utilization and spending have plummeted. Insurers’ Medical Loss Ratios are dropping, because insurers are paying out fewer claims from the premiums they have collected. (I discussed this dynamic during my May 8 video webinar Industry Update and COVID-19 Impact: PBMs & Payers.)

FYI, IQVIA is updating this valuable report weekly. I highly recommended it for tracking the industry impact of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Pandemic May Change Rx Delivery Permanently, Radar on Drug Benefits

This article highlights my comments from our recent video webinars. It addresses a crucial question: Will mail pharmacy retain its 2020 market share gains?

As I see it, COVID-19 will have a small impact on mail pharmacies’ market share. For 2019, mail pharmacies accounted for about 9% of total 30-day equivalent prescriptions. (See Exhibit 24 of our 2020 Economic Report on U.S. Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.) For the first 20 weeks of 2020, mail pharmacies have gained less than 0.5% of prescription share.

See for yourself. The chart below shows data on year-over-year growth trends for weekly prescription volume in retail and mail pharmacies. (These data appear in IQVIA’s weekly report, linked above.)

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As you can see:
  • Patients began stockpiling medicines in March, which pulled future demand forward. Most PBMs waived “refill-too-soon” limits and permitted greater use of 90-day prescriptions at retail pharmacies.
  • Growth in mail prescriptions has returned to its pre-pandemic rates.
  • In late March, state lockdowns and patient fear prompted a sharp decline in the retail channel. Retail prescription growth remains below the 2019 figures, though it has been rebounding over the past two weeks.

Biosimilars Pipeline Report, AmerisourceBergen

This useful report from AmerisourceBergen highlights the development of the U.S. biosimilar market. Here’s a key chart:

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The biosimilar market is finally beginning to fulfill its promise. Adoption rates are growing quickly, competition is increasing, and prices are falling. As I argued in last September’s We Shouldn’t Give Up on Biosimilars—And Here Are the Data to Prove It:
“Regulating prices at this stage of the market’s development is premature. This strategy may save some money in the short run, but it risks destroying a market that is finally beginning to fulfill its promise.”
Payers’ benefit design decisions—not pricing—appear to be a crucial roadblock to faster biosimilar adoption, per the findings in this recent Journal of the American Medical Association article.

People Cannot Stop Posting Corona Jokes And Here Are 50 Of The Best Ones This Week (New Pics), Bored Panda

I spotted this helpful social distancing guidance from a CVS retail pharmacy:

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BTW, this is probably not official CVS policy.

P.S. Bored Panda—the source of the photo above—is one of the biggest time wasters on the Internet. You have been warned!

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