Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Drug Channels News Roundup, September 2020: FQHCs and 340B, Drug Prices, CVS Health’s Zinc, Telehealth, All-Time Greatest Songs, and 10K on Twitter

Autumn is here! We’ve been squirrelling away these acorns from the mighty Drug Channels oaks:
  • I agree. FQHCs are not the problem in 340B.
  • Brand-name drug prices keep on dropping
  • It’s official: CVS Health’s Zinc GPO actually exists!
  • Telehealth takes a dive
Plus, vote for your 10 favorite songs of all time!

P.S. This month, @DrugChannels exceeded 10,000 followers on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who follows my curated links to neat stuff! Click here to join the crowd.


You can also join my 12.3K followers on LinkedIn.

Cheaper Insulin Via 340B Helps Poor People, The Wall Street Journal

In response to my Wall Street Journal op-ed about the 340B Drug pricing Program, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) wrote a letter to the editor. NACHC correctly notes that federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) pass along 340B discounts on insulin to needy patients.

This is an important point. As I have noted, I generally consider FQHCs to be the good guys of 340B. They account for less than 2% of the 112,000 relationships between covered entities and contract pharmacies.

My op-ed focuses on why hospitals and some other covered entities are keeping prescription prices high for commercial and Medicare patients. That’s the problem. A covered entity’s 340B funds come from the difference between:
  • the drug's market-rate pharmacy reimbursement (paid by a Medicare or private plan) plus the patient’s out-of-pocket contribution, and
  • the drug's discounted price from the manufacturer
Consequently, 340B hospitals requires people with insurance and their health plans to overpay for their prescriptions—i.e. keep prescription prices high—at contract pharmacies so the covered entity can generate 340B funds.

What’s more, FQHCs account for less than 6% of 340B purchases, according to the latest data from most recently available public data from Apexus (below).

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2Q20 List and net price trends for US Rx brands, SSR Health

Brand-name drug prices keep dropping.

SSR Health has found that for the second quarter of 2020, real (inflation-adjusted) list prices grew by 3.6.%. Real net prices, however, shrank by -5.1%. The list-to-net gap reached 49.9%, which means that net prices equaled half of list prices. This gap fuels the the gross-to-net bubble and its associated problems.

Here are the SSR Health industry data for the past 10 years. (Sorry, the full report is available only to SSR subscribers.)
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See Surprise! Brand-Name Drug Prices Fell in 2019 for background on SSR Health and these data.

Earnings Call Transcript, CVS Health

ICYMI, CVS Health has officially admitted that its Zinc GPO exists. Here’s an excerpt from the Q&A during the company’s August earnings call

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Kudos to Eric Percher of Nephron Research for breaking this industry news, which I covered in the Drug Channels June news roundup.

Telehealth: Fad or the Future, Epic Health Research Network

Telehealth visits have plummeted since providers started reopening. They accounted for 70% of total ambulatory visits in April, but only 21% of visits in July. I wonder how much telehealth will remain when things really get back to normal. 10%? 15%?

Here are the surprising data from Epic Systems:

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As of October 1, many health plans will reinstate patient copays for virtual provider vists. That's more bad news for telehealth.

The 2020 Greatest Songs of All-Time Countdown, WXPN

We here in Philadelphia are blessed to have 88.5 WXPN, the nationally recognized leader in Triple A (adult, album, alternative) radio. It’s non-commercial, member-supported radio for grown-ups who like music. Click here to listen for free online or ask your Alexa to “Play WXPN.”

I feel so strongly about the station that I joined the WXPN Policy Board in 2018.

Later this year, XPN will be counting down the 2,020 all-time greatest songs based on listener votes. Click here to submit your personal top 10 songs. Any era, any genre. Voting ends on October 18.

It will be a total blast to listen this XPN countdown. Happy voting!

P.S. Fair warning: This is a very challenging exercise!

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