Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Drug Channels News Roundup, August 2022: Gov. Dean vs. Maximizers, Cancer vs. Copays, Specialty Drug Trends, Biosimilar Transitivity, and Dr. G. vs. PBMs

Our news-laden summer is coming to an end. Time to pack away your bathing suit, send the kids back to school, and cherish these curated curiosities that I combed from the Drug Channels coastline:
  • Howard Dean attacks patient-unfriendly cost shifting
  • Cancer patients’ views of copay assistance
  • My $0.02 on key specialty pharmacy trends
  • Evidence for biosimilar-to-biosimilar switching
Plus, Dr. Glaucomflecken takes on PBMs!

P.S. Join my more than 31,000 LinkedIn followers for daily links to neat stuff. You can also find my daily posts at @DrugChannels on Twitter, where I have more than 15,000 followers.

It’s time to expose the secret drug scam at the heart of American health care, Fortune

Check out this must-read op-ed from former governor of Vermont Howard Dean.

He attacks the tools that plans and PBMs use to shift prescription costs to patients. It’s a surprisingly articulate and robust attack on coinsurance based on undiscounted list prices and the growing use of copay maximizers and accumulators.

I’m not sure how or why Governor Dean has become so focused on these issues. But his article is worth your time.

Survivor Views: Copay Assistance and Patient Navigation, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Guess what? Cancer patients overwhelmingly value copay assistance. As you can see below, more than eight of ten patients believe that copay assistance helped them afford their medications and remain adherent to therapy.

[Click to Enlarge]

Unfortunately, the study also found that over one-quarter of those receiving copay assistance reported that it was not applied to their deductible. I guess those silly patients thought they had health insurance!

The results come from a survey and targeted interviews with thousands of cancer patients and survivors. They provide a crucial perspective—especially when today’s commercial benefit designs levy financially penalties on people with serious conditions requiring specialty drugs.

Alas, plans and PBMs increasingly view manufacturers’ copay support programs primarily as a piggybank for themselves, as I demonstrate in How Copay Accumulators and Maximizers Have Changed Payers’ View of Copay Support.

Specialty Pharmacy Market Is at ‘Inflection Point’, AIS Health

Thanks to Angela Maas at AIS Health for a nice review of my recent Specialty Drugs Update: Trends, Controversies, and Outlook video webinar. She summarizes some of my points about biosimilars, PBMs, copay maximizers, alternative financing programs, channel developments, and more.

If you missed the live event, click here to purchase a replay and download the full slide deck.

Switching from One Biosimilar to Another Biosimilar of the Same Reference Biologic: A Systematic Review of Studies, BioDrugs

Interesting meta-review of studies that show few problems when switching a patient from one biosimilar to another biosimilar of the same reference biologic, a.k.a. biosimilar transitivity.

So far, the clinical evidence is fairly limited. However, the authors are still able to conclude that “available data suggests that biosimilar-to-biosimilar switching is a safe and effective clinical practice…No reduction in effectiveness or increase in adverse events was detected in biosimilar-to-biosimilar switching studies conducted to date.”

As the U.S. enters the next phase of its biosimilar boom, this type of research will become essential for accelerating adoption and lowering prices.

The Middlemen of Healthcare, Dr. Glaucomflecken

Dr. Glaucomflecken, the funniest physician on the internet, takes on PBMs! I wonder if he reads Drug Channels?

BTW, I was tickled to see that Will Flanary (Dr. G’s secret identity) will be speaking at NCPA’s 2022 Annual Convention & Expo.

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