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 more than 35,000 subscribers. Learn more...

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Supermarkets Outpace CVS and Walgreens in 2021’s Part D Pharmacy Networks

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently released its 2021 data on enrollment in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs). Our exclusive analysis of these numbers finds that for 2021, an astounding 99% of seniors are enrolled in PDPs with preferred pharmacy networks.

Below, we use the new enrollment data to examine the major pharmacy chains’ position within the 27 major Part D plans that have preferred networks. As you will see, the big supermarket chains—Albertsons, Kroger, and Publix—outpaced the big three drugstore chains and Walmart.

Pharmacies continue to sacrifice margin for store traffic. Don’t expect that to change—especially given the notable failure of the independents-only Indy Health Part D plan.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Drug Channels News Roundup, February 2021: Accumulator Problems, Humana + ESI, White Bagging Battles, Buy-and-Bill Economics, and Pharmacy Hero Dave Marley

Let’s melt away this foul February with our monthly selection of scorching news from around the drug channel. In this issue:
  • Payers confess: Patients lose from copay accumulators
  • Humana joins the Express Scripts GPO
  • Hospitals vs. PBMs over specialty pharmacy white bagging
  • Let’s all follow the Buy-and-Bill Dollar!
Plus, entrepreneurial pharmacy owner Dave Marley demonstrates the power of innovation.

P.S. Join the more than 11,000 followers of my daily links to neat stuff at @DrugChannels on Twitter. You can also join my more than 15,000 followers on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Promise and Limits of Digital Pharmacies

Does pharmacy need to be disrupted?

Venture capitalists clearly think so, judging by the billions they have put behind technology-enabled digital pharmacies. Below, you’ll find our list of 14 leading contenders along with funding levels. These companies have not gained significant pharmacy industry market share, but their revenue growth rates are impressive.

Alas, many of these digital pharmacies seem to have misdiagnosed their relative advantage versus today's pharmacies. 

That’s why I believe that digital pharmacies’ biggest impact will come from forcing the industry incumbents to improve their businesses and approach to patients. Pharmacies and PBMs should absorb the technologies and consumer-oriented mindsets of the start-ups.

Digital pharmacies more intriguing disruption comes from combining prescribing and dispensing. But this novel idea seems to have limited applicability to the broader prescription market.   

Read on and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Available for Preorder: The 2021 Economic Report on U.S. Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers

On March 16, 2021, Drug Channels Institute will release The 2021 Economic Report on U.S. Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers. This report—our twelfth edition—remains the most comprehensive, fact-based tool for understanding the entire U.S. drug pricing, reimbursement, and dispensing system.

We are providing you with the opportunity to preorder this thoroughly updated and revised 2021 edition at special discounted prices. This means that you can be among the first to access our new report. Those who preorder will receive a download link before March 16.


You can pay online with all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) or via PayPal. Click here to email us if you would like to pay by corporate purchase order or check.

Special preorder and launch pricing discounts will be valid through March 28, 2021.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Pharmacy Economics Rebound (A Little) Amid Glimmers of Good News

Time to update Drug Channels' exclusive look at independent pharmacy owners’ business economics.

Our analysis reveals that despite what you may have heard, many independent pharmacies have figured out how to survive a highly challenging environment.

Retail pharmacy profits have rebounded—or at least not fallen any further. What’s more, better expense control has allowed the average pharmacy owner’s salary to increase for the first time in years. 

Believe it or not, the pharmacy profit outlook for 2021 also is improving, thanks to the Rutledge v. PCMA decision and the prospect of state Medicaid changes in California, New York, and elsewhere.

Read on for our analysis of pharmacy profits and some thoughts on the hardy retail pharmacy survivors.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Importance of Humanity in Medication Access

Today’s guest post comes from David Holladay, President of CoverMyMeds.

David highlights the value of empathy in patient care. He also shares crucial findings from CoverMyMeds’ new 2021 Medication Access Report. This report provides a wealth of data about medication access, while also highlighting patients’ own stories and experiences.

Read on for David’s insights.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Drug Channels News Roundup, January 2021: Hospital Drug Profits, Details of PBM-Manufacturer Insulin Deals, and My Favorite Chart Updated

For my first Drug Channels news roundup of 2021, I focus on two remarkable, must-read reports that provide extraordinary details about the hidden economics of our drug channel:
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new transparency rule discloses how much major insurers overpay hospitals for outpatient drugs.
  • A new Senate report reveals unprecedented information about PBMs, manufacturers, and the gross-to-net bubble for insulin.
Plus, a 2021 update to my all-time favorite chart.

P.S. Join the nearly 11,000 followers of my daily links to neat stuff at @DrugChannels on Twitter. You can also join my nearly 15,000 followers on LinkedIn.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Enhance Patient Care And Cost Savings By Improving Data Exchange Within The Systems You Already Have

Today’s guest post comes from Jason Coles, Senior Product Manager for Clinical Effectiveness at Wolters Kluwer, Health.

Jason discusses the benefits of accessing patient information across clinical contexts. He introduces us to the Wolters Kluwer drug data solutions. These solutions promote interoperability and help healthcare businesses meet regulations related to health information exchange.

To learn more, download the Wolters Kluwer interoperability stories ebook.

Read on for Jason’s insights.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Latest CMS Data Reveal the Truth About U.S. Drug Spending

ICYMI: The econowonks at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently dropped the latest National Health Expenditure (NHE) data, which measures all U.S. spending on healthcare. Links below.

Today, I highlight the surprising insights from the latest figures. I examine the growth rates of major spending categories, break down costs vs. utilization, and highlight the unfavorable out-of-pocket dynamics for prescription drugs compared with hospital care.

Bonus: I also debrief you on CMS’s quinquennial comprehensive revision to the national spending data.

Regular readers know the unofficial motto of Drug Channels: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." For 2021, I hope the drug pricing flat earthers (#DPFE) finally start to follow the data and acknowledge what’s really going on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

17th Annual Life Sciences Accounting & Reporting Congress

17th Annual Life Sciences Accounting & Reporting Congress
March 16-18, 2021 | Virtual Event
www.informaconnect.com/accounting-reporting-congress

The 17th Annual Life Sciences Accounting & Reporting Congress, an important event for finance, accounting and business leaders within life sciences, provides in-depth CPE education and networking with nearly 600 professionals. Join us for a Spring Virtual Update on March 16-18, 2021 as we navigate regulatory reform, increased complexity, dynamic risk environment, COVID industry impacts and more.

Visit www.informaconnect.com/accounting-reporting-congress for further details and to register. Drug Channels readers will save $100 off the current lowest rate when they use code DRCH100 and register prior to February 12, 2021.*

With Expert Keynotes, In-Depth Workshops and Live Q&A Opportunities and other virtual features, you’ll end your week ready to advance your organization to stay ahead in 2021.

Here’s a snapshot of what to expect:

Valuable Virtual Networking, Career Development, and Educational Opportunities:
  • Pre-Congress Offerings including Technology Solution Summits, Controller’s Think Tank, 101 Foundational Course, Talent Acquisition and Team Optimization Summit
  • CEO Fireside Chat – A Candid Conversation on Key Business and Industry Priorities in 2021 and Beyond
  • CFO Keynote Panel – Leading in Finance and Navigating the Course of Change
  • CAO Panel and Q&A – Critical Issues in Technical Accounting and Financial Reporting
  • Healthcare Policy Fireside Chat – Pricing, Policy and Healthcare Outcomes
  • SEC Keynote Address – Oversight, Management and Performance
  • FASB Address – Standards Update and Initiatives
  • Advancement Course – Future Finance: Strategies to Empower the Team, Elevate Talent, Inspire Inclusion and Cultivate a Winning Culture
  • Plus – Hot Topic Workshops focusing on AI and Robotics Automation, IPO Readiness, Clinical Trials and Vendor Study Management, Divestiture Strategies, M&A Integration, New Product Commercialization, ESG Metrics and Disclosures, Cyber and Data Security, Corporate Tax Reform Implications
Visit www.informaconnect.com/accounting-reporting-congress for further details and to register. Drug Channels readers will save $100 off the current lowest rate when they use code DRCH100 and register prior to February 12, 2021.*

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rate or non-profit 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.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

U.S. Prescription Trends: 2020 Review and 2021 Outlook (video)

Below is a brief excerpt from my recent Drug Channels Outlook 2021 video webinar. I discuss:
  • How COVID-19 affected the retail and mail prescription market during 2020
  • What’s ahead for prescription market
This five minute video provides you with a quick and engaging review of a year that many of us would like to forget. You can purchase a replay of the full 75-minute event, which covered many other topics.

You can also sign up for my new Drug Channels 2021 Quarterly Video Webinar Series, which includes four video webinars during 2021 (including my Outlook 2022 webinar on December 17, 2021). Let's hope this year kicks off the roaring '20s!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Big Three PBMs Ramp Up Specialty Drug Exclusions for 2021

Once again, the three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)—Caremark (CVS Health), Express Scripts (Cigna), and OptumRx (United Health Group)—have increased the number of drugs they have excluded from their standard formularies. 

Today, I update our annual tracking of the number of exclusions by each PBM. I also highlight the expansion of exclusions into major specialty therapy classes. The 2021 formulary exclusion lists are available below for your downloading pleasure.

The growth in excluded products shows how competitive many specialty therapy categories have become—and the undisclosed but presumably significant rebates generated by these products. Patient impact is also increasing, as products move on and off formularies.

Eight years ago, I outlined the inevitability of formulary exclusions. But I didn’t anticipate just how far PBMs would push this tool. Expect much more controversy as exclusions hit previously untouched but sensitive sole-source products in oncology, rheumatology, and beyond—and even start moving into Medicaid.

Monday, January 11, 2021

PAP Critical Update

PAP Critical Update
March 8-10, 2021 | Virtual Event
www.informaconnect.com/pap21

Set the tone and strategy for 2021 with PAP Critical Update taking place March 8-10 in a fully virtual format, and benefit from critical and timely updates addressing the upcoming challenges for patient access and assistance professionals. In a time of unprecedented need, join influential stakeholders as they come together for collaborative and meaningful discussion and dive into policy updates, COVID-19 impacts, election implications, technology advances and so much more affecting the patient access community.

Exclusive Offer – View the agenda at a glance and register today – Be sure to use your exclusive promo code PAP10 to save 10% off* of your registration.

PAP Critical Update serves as a three-day conference experience, featuring top experts ready to lead robust discussions on the changing legal environment, industry best practices, policy watch‑outs and more, including:
  • State of the Industry of Legislation and Pending Health Policy
  • The Intersection of Access and Affordability
  • Leading Perspectives from Regulatory, Foundations and Payers
  • Technology Advances Ensuring Access
  • COVID-19 and PAP Support
  • Accumulator and Maximizer Programs
Unparalleled Virtual Capabilities:
  • Interactive presentations and panels
  • Live Q&A and polling
  • Live and on-demand sessions, all available 30-days post-event to review at your leisure
  • 1-1 meeting opportunities and peer-to-peer engagement
  • Sophisticated and seamless scheduling tools
Exclusive Offer – View the agenda at a glance and register today – Be sure to use your exclusive promo code PAP10 to save 10% off* of your registration.

Informa Connect will see you there!

*Cannot be combined with other offers, promotions or applied to an existing registration. 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, January 08, 2021

Preserving Trusted Brand Prescribing Through the Patient Journey

Today’s guest post comes from Julia Phillips, VP of Pharma Accounts and Enablement at CoverMyMeds.

Julia discusses common patient access and affordability issues. She describes CoverMyMeds’ technology solutions that are designed to help patients access, afford, and adhere to their prescribed medications.

To learn more about CoverMyMeds’ medication access solutions, download their Technology Solutions Overview.

Read on for Julia’s insights.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Surprise! Brand-Name Drug Prices Fell (Again) in 2020

It was another year of unexpected drug price developments.

In 2020, brand-name drug net prices dropped for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, brand-name drug list prices grew at their slowest rate in at least 20 years. See our updated analysis below.

I also review the factors behind declining brand-name drug prices. These factors are firmly in place for 2021.
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Our new Congress may try tackle drug prices in the new year. Let’s hope that their policy perceptions catch up to today’s realities.

Monday, January 04, 2021

16th Hub and SPP Model Optimization Spring Stakeholder Summit

16th Hub and SPP Model Optimization Spring Stakeholder Summit
March 3-5, 2021 | Virtual Event
www.informaconnect.com/hub-spp

This important event convenes key stakeholders to showcase innovative hub programs and patient-centric services to maximize access, reimbursement and adherence. Highlighting top-line regulatory actions, updates on the evolving affordability landscape, and industry perspectives on access strategy, this virtual program tackles immediate challenges and delivers actionable, cutting-edge strategies for a successful hub program.

Drug Channels readers will save 10% off the current registration rate when they use code HUBSDC10*.

Can’t Miss Content on Tap:
  • Delivering Value to Empower and Educate Patients to Enhance Medication Adherence
  • Navigate the Challenges and Complexities of Medical Benefit Products
  • Discover Best-in-Class Service for Streamlined Stakeholder Workflow and Access
  • Trailblazer Talk – Develop Innovative Models and Novel Strategies to Ensure Access
  • Explore eServices Management Strategies to Optimize Value
  • Strategy Insights and Metrics for Launch in a New Normal
Innovative Features:
  • Main Stage Keynotes, New Year Enforcement Updates from Regulatory Agencies, Industry Panels and Strategic Case Studies
  • Industry Only Rapid-Fire Solution Showcase Luncheon: In a series of short demonstrations and presentations by leading experts and solution providers, experience cutting-edge, innovative services and offerings, while enjoying a complimentary lunch during this invite-only showcase
  • Peer-to-Peer Exchange – Best Practice and Knowledge Sharing Table Talks: Benchmark pain points, share best practices and unpack challenges with peers around top of mind topic areas that are affecting the access world today in three interactive brainstorming sessions
  • Virtual Access to the Sponsorship Pavilion and VIP Matchmaking
  • Videos and Presentations Available On-Demand with Access for 30 Days Post Event
Featured Speakers:
  • Esther Langer, Head US Patient Services, Trade, and Distribution, Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Jourdan Russo, Director, Patient Services, Kyowa Kirin, Inc.
  • Dave MacLeod, Head of Patient Services and Specialty Pharmacy Operations, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals
  • Deepti Jaggi, Global Head of Patient Insights and Solutions, Astellas US
  • Marina Allen, Executive Director, Patient Access and Reimbursement, Coherus BioSciences
  • And more!
Drug Channels readers will save 10% off the current registration rate
 when they use code HUBSDC10*.

*Offer applies to standard rates only and may not be combined with other offers, category rates, promotions or applied to an existing registration. Offer not valid on workshop only or academic/non-profit registrations.



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