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 75,000 subscribers and followers. Learn more...

Friday, December 08, 2023

Transforming Medication Access with the Next Generation of Patient Support Services

Today’s guest post comes from Kelly Martin, Vice President of Product Management at CoverMyMeds.

Kelly discusses the obstacles that patients face when attempting to access, afford, and adhere to specialty therapies. She describes how CoverMyMeds improves the patient experience by blending technology with human expertise and connection.

Click here to learn about CoverMyMed’s next-generation patient support services.

Read on for Kelly’s insights.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

What CVS Pharmacy’s New Cost-Plus Reimbursement Approach Means for PBMs, Pharmacies, Plan Sponsors, and Prescription Prices

Is the world ready for new ways to price pharmacy and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) services? CVS Health thinks so, as evidenced by two new initiatives that it announced yesterday. Below you'll find details and links to source documents.

I commend CVS Health for attempting to address key economic challenges facing the retail pharmacy industry and for tackling the hidden complexities of PBM pricing models. As I explain, a shift to cost-based pharmacy reimbursement could stabilize CVS Health’s retail business by improving its dispensing profits.

Nonetheless, CVS Pharmacy’s cost-plus model has some notable shortcomings for plan sponsors and is far less “disruptive” than the company would like us to believe. Mark Cuban should be flattered—but not fearful.

What's more, other large pharmacies will likely follow CVS with attempts to force payers and PBMs to accept some form of cost-plus reimbursement. (Et tu, Walgreens?) If that happens, expect higher prescriptions prices, less efficiency, and a slowdown in the inevitable retail pharmacy shakeout.

For more on the future of PBM and pharmacy pricing, join me on December 15 for a new live video webinar: Drug Channels Outlook 2024. I promise a a jam-packed 90 minutes filled with crucial information you need to know for the year ahead. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Drug Wholesalers and Brand-Name Drug Prices: Understanding CVS Health/McKesson and Why Pharmacies Lose Money on GLP-1s

Consider two apparently unrelated drug channel anomalies:
  • In McKesson’s 2023 fiscal year, CVS bought $75 billion in pharmaceuticals from McKesson’s wholesale business—a jump of more than 35% compared with the previous year.
  • Despite skyrocketing sales for anti-obesity GLP-1 drugs, many retail pharmacies are losing money on every prescription.
The common factor behind these two disparate situations: Pharmaceutical wholesalers’ unusual pricing for brand-name drugs sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and other buyers. Below, I walk through the economic fundamentals to help you understand another obscure aspect of our opaque drug pricing system.

This morning’s announcement of CVS Health’s CostVantage pharmacy reimbursement model reflects the latest attempt to fix the system’s wacky economics. Tomorrow on Drug Channels, I’ll delve into the pros and cons of this new approach.

For more on the economic forces behind healthcare industry changes, join me for my upcoming live video webinar, Drug Channels Outlook 2024, on December 15, 2023, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Friday, December 01, 2023

How Direct-to-Consumer Rx Platforms Help Patient Support Programs Succeed

Today’s guest post comes from Josh Bliss, Head of Pharma Solutions at SingleCare.

Josh outlines manufacturers’ challenge when educating and informing patients about patient support programs. He then describes the SingleCare prescription discount card and Pharma Solutions, which provides manufacturers with a platform to reach patients.

Click here to learn how manufacturers can advertise patient support programs at the point of purchase.

Read on for Josh’s insights.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Drug Channels News Roundup, November 2023: My $0.02 on Express Scripts’ Cost-Based Pricing, Mark Cuban vs. PBMs, Dual-WAC Strategies, Pharmacy Shakeout, and Adam vs. Rocky

I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. Now that you’ve stretched your stomach, it's time to stretch your mind with some food for thought. In this issue:
  • A reality check on Express Scripts’ purported “cost-based” pharmacy network
  • Mark Cuban explains how and why the PBM market will change
  • Why two drug prices are better than one
  • Pharmacists sing the retail pharmacy shakeout blues
Plus, two Philly legends meet at a cardiology conference!

P.S. Join my more nearly 49,000 LinkedIn followers for daily links to neat stuff. You can also find my daily posts at @DrugChannels on Twitter/X, where I have more than 17,000 followers. (I recommend that you follow me on LinkedIn, because the quality of comments and engagement is much higher than they are on Twitter. I’m not posting to Threads yet.)

Do you want to know even more about key healthcare trends? Then join me for my upcoming live video webinar, Drug Channels Outlook 2024, on December 15, 2023, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Simplify and Accelerate Benefits Verification with a Fully Integrated, Adaptable Platform

Today’s guest post comes from Maria Kirsch, President of Patient Services at EVERSANA.

Maria discusses the challenges patients and healthcare providers face accessing specialty therapies. She introduces us to ACTICS® eAccess, EVERSANA’s technology platform for electronic prior authorization and benefits verification that can be used for both the pharmacy benefit and the medical benefit.

To learn more about EVERSANA’s technology solution, schedule a live demo here.

Read on for Maria’s insights.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Medicare Part D in 2024: Mapping Large Chains' Position in 2024’s Preferred Pharmacy Networks

In Medicare Part D in 2024: The Seven Largest Companies' Preferred Pharmacy Networks and the Coming Collapse of the PDP Market, I documented how those networks now dominate stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) and have become a major presence in Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MA-PD) plans.

Today, I examine the seven largest retail chains’ participation in the 20 major 2024 Part D networks that the eight largest plan sponsors will offer. As always, I offer you a handy table for scoring each chain’s participation and changes from 2023 to 2024.

As you’ll see, these companies all maintained strong positions in the major PDP’s preferred networks. Walmart has the highest participation, while Rite Aid has the lowest. In an upcoming post, I’ll delve into how smaller pharmacies will participate in the 2024 Part D plans, by examining the pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs).

Speaking of 2024, please join me for my upcoming live video webinar, Drug Channels Outlook 2024, on December 15, 2023, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Drug Channels Outlook 2024 (NEW Live Video Webinar)

It’s time for our most popular event of the year!

Dr. Adam J. Fein, CEO of Drug Channels Institute (DCI) and the author of Drug Channels, invites you to join him for DCI’s new live video webinar:

Drug Channels Outlook 2024
This event will be broadcast live on
Friday, December 15, 2023
12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET.

This post describes the event, outlines the pricing options, and explains how to purchase a registration. (Or, just click here to order.) The webinar will be broadcast from the Drug Channels studio in beautiful downtown Philadelphia.

This event is part of The Drug Channels 2023 Video Webinar Series. (Please note that our December 2023 webinar is *not* included with next year’s 2024 Video Webinar Series.)


Join Dr. Fein as he helps you and your team get ready for 2024 by outlining key issues and uncertainties that will surely affect your planning. This event can be both a capstone of your annual learning and a touchpoint for the future. DCI’s Outlook webinars have proven to be reliable and informative guides to crucial aspects of the ever-evolving healthcare industry.

During the event, Dr. Fein will share his latest thinking and projections on a wide range of topics, including:
  • Commercial implications of the Inflation Reduction Act
  • Vertical integration and consolidation trends
  • Update on Humira biosimilars
  • PBM strategies and the outlook for state and federal legislation
  • What’s next for discount cards and cash-pay pharmacies
  • Impact of anti-obesity GLP-1 agonist medications
  • 340B Drug Pricing Program update and outlook
  • Specialty drug costs and accumulators, maximizers, and alternative funding
  • The retail pharmacy shakeout
  • Gross-to-net bubble predictions
  • The evolving oncology market
  • Coming controversies and threats
  • And much more!
PLUS: During the webinar, Dr. Fein will give participants an opportunity to unmute themselves and ask live questions. The webinar will last 90 minutes to accommodate audience questions.

As always, Dr. Fein will clearly distinguish his opinions and interpretations from the objective facts and data. He will draw from exclusive information found in DCI's economic reports.

Read on for full details on pricing and registration.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Four Trends That Are Shaping the Future of Market Access

Today’s guest post comes from James Pisano, Partner, Market Access at The Dedham Group and Dinesh Kabaleeswaran, SVP of Insights & Advisory Teams at MMIT.

James and Dinesh offer four trends that they predict will shape medication access in the coming years. Click here to learn about consulting services from MMIT and its sister company The Dedham Group.

Read on for James’ and Dinesh’s insights.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Vertical Integration Lessons: The Economics and Strategies of Hospital-Owned Specialty Pharmacies

As many of you know, hospitals and health systems have emerged as significant participants in the specialty pharmacy industry. A new American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP) survey provides fresh insights into these specialty pharmacies.

Below, I review key findings on the economics and operations of these specialty pharmacies. I then highlight how hospitals steer prescriptions to their internal specialty pharmacies.

As you’ll see, hospitals use network strategies that would make any pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) proud—especially when combined with the prescribing activities of hospital-employed physicians.

Vertical integration among insurers, PBMs, specialty pharmacies, and providers within U.S. drug channels gets most of the attention. But a parallel vertical integration has been occurring among hospitals, specialty pharmacies, and physicians. Manufacturers and payers must adapt to the growing power and market tactics of hospital-owned specialty pharmacies.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Is Your Hub Partner Missing the Therapeutic Area Expertise You Need?

Today’s guest post comes from Greg Morris, Chief Strategy Officer at CareMetx.

Greg highlights the value of therapeutic area expertise in enhancing the performance of hub services. He explains how CareMetx's hub used its experience in the retina space to improve a new brand-name product’s launch.

To learn more about the impact of hub service on brand launch success, download CareMetx’s latest report: Patient Service Trends Point the Way to Better Hub/ Provider Partnerships.

Read on for Greg’s insights.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Drug Channels News Roundup, October 2023: CVS & Humira Biosimilars, GLP-1 G2N Bubble, 340B Abuses, Rite Aid's Endgame, Mark Cuban Update, and an Epic Meetup

Zoinks! It's time for a super-sized Halloween roundup of wicked Drug Channels’ tales. This month’s tricks and treats:
  • Spooky! CVS Health frightens all but one Humira biosimilar maker away from its formulary.
  • Creepy! The gross-to-net bubble for anti-obesity GLP-1 drugs walks among us.
  • Grotesque! Penn Medicine gorges on the 340B program.
  • Vampiric! Rite Aid’s many management missteps finally put a stake in the company’s heart.
  • Eerie! Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company conjures a partnership with Alto Pharmacy.
Plus, an epic meetup with two of my favorite drug channel experts.

P.S. For my daily haunting, join the zombie horde who shamble after me on LinkedIn. You can also find my ghostly rantings at @DrugChannels on Twitter/X. (I recommend LinkedIn for maximium scares. Alas, I’m still spooked by Threads.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

thINc’s Value-Based Care Summit

thINc’s Value-Based Care Summit
Accelerating Healthcare’s Shift in the Move from Volume to Value
In-Person Event | December 5-6, 2023 in Washington, DC

Use promo code VBCDC to save $100. Register Today.

View the Agenda Snapshot

As healthcare stakeholders continue to prioritize the move to value-based care and aim to provide equitable access to care for all, health plan, provider, and pharma leaders must develop novel approaches to empower the patient and ensure effective risk-sharing strategies.

The Value-Based Care Summit, produced by The Healthcare Innovation Company (thINc), brings together health care providers, health plans, pharmaceutical companies/manufacturers, and regulatory and legislative leaders to discuss novel approaches, innovative models, and mutually beneficial partnerships that drive care delivery transformation and accelerate the transition to value-based care.

Can't miss content highlights including:
  • Risk-Sharing and Value-Based Contracting: Examine outcomes-based strategies and innovations in value-based contracting arrangements
  • Policy and Regulations: Understand key updates from CMMI, ICER (Institute for Clinical and Economic Review), and policy experts on value-based payment models
  • Value-Based Digital Solutions: Explore case studies on how to test, design, and scale digital services and ensure technological innovations that support outcomes improvement, preventive care, and cost containment
  • Cross-Stakeholder Partnerships: Foster stakeholder partnerships to optimize patient support and care delivery
  • Population Health and Value-Based Care: Leverage real-world data and understand social determinants of health to build predictive value-based care solutions for populations
  • Care Delivery Transformation: Adopt a personalized approach to understand patient needs and implement a value-based care delivery model
  • Data and Evidence: Harness real-time patient data and population health metrics to determine medication adherence and identify trends to mitigate major health issues
Must-attend keynotes include:

CEO Keynote Panel: Making Value-Based Care a Reality: Progress, Promise, and the Path Forward
  • Eric Gallagher, CEO, Ochsner Health Network (OHN)
  • Lee Handke, PharmD, CEO, Nebraska Health Network
  • Stacy Meyr DC, President, Saint Alphonsus Health Alliance
  • Moderator: Josh Berlin, CEO, rule of three, LLC
Leadership Perspectives to Accelerate the Move to Value Based Healthcare Transformation
  • Thomas McGinn MD, MPH, System EVP, Physician Enterprise, CommonSpirit Health
  • Rachel Thornton MD, PhD, VP and Enterprise Chief Health Equity Officer, Nemours Children's Health
  • Will Shrank, MD, Venture Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
  • Mark Steffen MD, MPH, SVP, Medical Management and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Moderator: Ceci Connolly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP)
Align Incentives to Strengthen Payer-Provider Partnerships and Contract Arrangements
  • Josh Patten, Executive Director, National Value Based Development, Aetna, CVS Health Company
  • Janet Pogar, Market Leader, SW Florida, Florida Blue
  • Elisa Wetherbee, CEO, IPA; VP, Clinically Integrated Network, Rose Medical Group and HealthONE Physician Partnership; VP, Population Health, UCHealth
  • Moderator: Debbie Welle-Powell, CEO, DWP Advisors; Adjunct Faculty, Denver Business School, University of Colorado
PLUS! Two Dedicated Tracks for Your Focus Area:
  • Value-Based Contracting Strategies for Manufacturers
  • Contracting and Networking Design Strategies for Health Plans and Providers
View the current Speaker Faculty and register today.

*All registrations subject to review by the thINc team. Promo codes not applicable for vendors/solutions providers. Discount codes are only applicable to NEW registrations.

The content of Sponsored Posts does not necessarily reflect the views of Pembroke Consulting, Inc., Drug Channels, or any of its employees. To find out how you can promote an event on Drug Channels, please contact Paula Fein (paula@drugchannels.net).

Friday, October 27, 2023

GoodRx Announces New Way for Consumers To Access Sanofi’s Lantus for $35 at Over 70,000 Pharmacies Nationwide

Today’s guest post is from Dorothy Gemmell, Chief Commercial Officer at GoodRx.

Dorothy explains the innovative new collaboration between GoodRx and Sanofi. Under the program, the out-of-pocket cost for Sanofi's Lantus will be capped at $35 at any pharmacy that accepts GoodRx. This program will increase affordabiliy and broaden access for people living with diabetes.

Click here to learn more about GoodRx access and affordability solutions like GoodRx Assist, a point-of-sale (POS) rebate program that attracts cash-paying patients who require additional financial assistance to start and stay on medication.

Read on for Dorothy’s insights.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Medicare Part D in 2024: The Seven Largest Companies' Preferred Pharmacy Networks and the Coming Collapse of the PDP Market

Open enrollment is under way for the 2024 Medicare Part D plans. Our exclusive analysis of Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) data reveals that preferred cost sharing pharmacy networks will maintain their dominance as a component of Part D benefit design.

For 2024:
  • 94% of stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDP) will have a preferred network.
  • 51% of Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MA-PD) plans will have a preferred network.
Below, I provide historical data on preferred networks’ growth and update the seven top companies’ 2024 offerings. I also update our analysis of the prevalence of preferred networks in three different types of MA-PD plans. In upcoming articles, I’ll delve into chain and independent pharmacies’ participation in the major 2024 preferred networks.

The 2024 data provide early evidence of a shrinking PDP market. Chalk it up to yet another unintended consequence of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which will make PDPs less economically viable and drive even more seniors into Medicare Advantage plans.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Informa Connect’s Trade and Channel Strategies

Informa Connect’s Trade and Channel Strategies
December 11-13, 2023
DoubleTree By Hilton | Philadelphia, PA

Exclusive Offer–Be sure to use your exclusive promo code 23DC10 to save 10% off* of your registration.

Trade and Channel Strategies is back and we have a lot to talk about! With regulation and policy changes, specifically surrounding the DCSCA, IRA and serialization, the loss of exclusivity wave, adoption of low-WAC products affecting GTN and the rise of alternative distribution models, there has never been a more important time for industry to unite. A program driven by market dynamics and led by champions of channel strategy, join now to master the complexities of pharmacy and distribution models to accelerate market access –It's all happening December 11-13, 2023.

Exclusive Offer–Download the agenda and register today–Be sure to use your exclusive promo code 23DC10 to save 10% off* of your registration.

Why should you attend this pivotal event?

The challenges of keeping up with shifting market dynamics in the midst of maximizing market access while also meeting business objectives remains a deep concern and brings about many questions for trade and channel professionals.

Have you properly prepared for the DSCSA to take effect and what should you expect post implementation? How is health policy affecting the distribution channel? How are product archetypes and market expansion influencing the physical channel and what does that mean for your organization?

In just three days, walk away with answers to these questions and more from experts from across the industry. Do not miss your chance to join seasoned leaders, your peers and leading solution providers as they dive into the top trends for innovative distribution, integrated pharmacy models and the future of trade.

What can you expect?

Vital insights from some of the industry’s leading pharmacy and distribution experts, including:
  • Bill Roth, General Manager and Managing Partner, Blue Fin Group, An IntegriChain Company
  • Jeff Henderson, Vice President, Head of Global Market Access, Reimbursement and Distribution, VectivBio
  • David T. Foell, Director, Specialty Channel Operations, Ultragenyx
  • Chris Rocco, Senior Director, Market Access Data, Reporting and Analytics, GSK
  • Spencer Miller, Director, Market Access, National Accounts, Trade & Distribution, Bayer
  • Dana Dickens, Senior Director, Trade, Gilead Sciences
  • Rena Goins, Executive Director, Global Distribution, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Eduardo De La Calle, Director of Regional Supply, AstraZeneca
  • Shefali Shah, Global VP, Market Value and Commercial Effectiveness, MindMaze
  • And more!
Tackle the hottest topics facing industry right now, including:
  • Keynote: The State of the Channel — Overview of Current and Future Trends Impacting the Channel
  • Wall Street Insights — Analyze Market Dynamics and Key Investments in the Healthcare Ecosystem
  • Focused Multi-Track Offerings:
    • Supply Chain and Distribution Operations
    • Pharmacy Model Strategies and Management
    • Data, Innovation and Analytics
  • Supply in Crisis—How Can We Better Prepare
  • How to Maximize GTN Impact for Channel Strategy
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit
  • Interactive Working Groups Based on Product Type:
    • Branded Products
    • Specialty, Orphan and Rare
    • Generics and Biosimilars
  • The Flavors of Retail Pharmacy—Exploring Various Models in the Marketplace
  • The State of the IRA and Navigating What Comes Next
  • Thought-Provoking Workshops by Role Type:
    • Trade 101 for Existing Products
    • Portfolio Management and Launch Strategy
    • Executive Trade Directors Exchange
  • Distribution for Digital Therapeutics
  • And more!

Exclusive Offer–Download the agenda and register today–Be sure to use your exclusive promo code 23DC10 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. To find out how you can promote an event on Drug Channels, please contact Paula Fein (paula@drugchannels.net).

Friday, October 20, 2023

How Centralized Prescription Fulfillment Allows Pharmacists to Better Help Patients

Today’s guest post comes from Melanie Christie, VP of Product Management at CoverMyMeds.

Melanie discusses how the nationwide shortage of pharmacy technicians affects pharmacists. She argues that centralized prescription fulfillment can provide pharmacists with more time to care for patients while also reducing medication errors and accelerating time-to-treatment. Melanie explains how such fulfillment tools also increase a pharmacy’s revenues and lowers its costs.

Click here to learn about CoverMyMeds’ automated central fill solutions.

Read on for Melanie’s insights.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Battle for Oncology Margin: How Private Equity Enables Vertical Integration by Pharmaceutical Wholesalers

In case you haven’t noticed, private equity firms have displaced hospitals and health systems as the major acquirers of community oncology practices. These financial firms have assembled significant oncology practice management companies that are primed for purchase by drug channel participants.

Below, I review recent M&A trends and then examine the strategic objectives behind the acquisition of private-equity-backed OneOncology by AmerisourceBergen (Cencora) and another financial buyer. As I explain, AmerisourceBergen (Cencora) gains significant strategic advantage from this transaction, which echoes a historical McKesson deal.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) has a newfound interest in the roll-up transactions that are creating practice management companies. Nonetheless, I expect this consolidation activity to continue—enabling a new round of vertical integration in the drug channel.

FYI: Today’s article is adapted from Section 6.3. (Future Trends for Buy-and-Bill Channels) of our new our 2023-24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors, now available to download at special launch pricing.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Informa Connect’s PBM Contracting Summit

Informa Connect’s PBM Contracting Summit
December 5-6, 2023 in Chicago, IL
Drug Channels readers save 10% with code 23DRCH10*

Join your peers for a unique opportunity to navigate the complex PBM landscape and gain unparalleled strategies to improve patient care and manage costs. The PBM Contracting Summit December 5-6, 2023 in Chicago, focuses on innovative and practical contracting strategies, improving patient care management and rising costs, the current legislative issues impacting contract negotiations and so much more. If you can’t attend in-person, there are virtual registration options available, too!

View the agenda the 2023 PBM Contracting Summit to see the complete picture – the program, speakers, and more, and visit www.informaconnect.com/pbm-contracting for further details and to register. Drug Channels readers will save 10% off when they use code 23DRCH10 and register prior to November 10, 2023.*

Sessions include coverage on multiple hot topics, including:
  • A regulatory update on the changing legal environment in healthcare
  • The latest on the 340B drug pricing program
  • A review of the AMP Cap removal project in relation to insulin and rebates
  • Understand copay maximizer and patient assistance programs in relation to PBM contracting
  • Combatting spread pricing with optimal PBM contracting and pricing
  • Take a deep dive into financial acceptance and consequences of biosimilars and specialty therapeutics
  • Strengthen the PBM-Payer partnership and strategize cost management
  • Develop an understanding of vertical integration and the consolidation of PBMs and the impact of offshore rebate aggregation entities
  • Hear about measuring value-based care and contracting, patient access priorities and PBM relationship, the expanding role of data, healthcare M&A, market access and pricing strategies and more!
View the agenda the 2023 PBM Contracting Summit to see the complete picture – the program, speakers, and more, and visit www.informaconnect.com/pbm-contracting for further details and to register. Drug Channels readers will save 10% off when they use code 23DRCH10 and register prior to November 10, 2023.*

*Cannot be combined with other offers or used towards a current registration. Cannot be combined with special category rates or other offers. 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. To find out how you can promote an event on Drug Channels, please contact Paula Fein (paula@drugchannels.net).

Friday, October 13, 2023

Copay Adjustment Programs: What Brand and Hub Teams Need to Know

Today’s guest post comes from Sam Blake, Vice President of Launch Excellence at ConnectiveRx.

Sam discusses the evolving landscape of copay adjustment programs. He explains how pharma brand teams and hub program managers can lessen the impact of accumulators and maximizers on patients’ access and adherence.

To learn more, join Chris Dowd, Senior Vice President of Market Development at ConnectiveRx, for a free webinar on October 26th at 1:00 pm ET: The Battle Over Accumulators and Maximizers: What You Need to Know for 2024.

Read on for Sam’s insights.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

NOW AVAILABLE: The 2023–24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors

I am pleased to announce our new 2023–24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors, available for purchase and immediate download.
We’re offering special discounted pricing if you order before October 23, 2023!

The 2023–24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors—our 14th edition—remains the most comprehensive, fact-based tool for understanding and analyzing the large and growing U.S. pharmaceutical distribution industry. No other report on the market today offers the depth, insight and analysis into these channels

This 2023-24 edition contains the most current financial and industry data along with detailed information about the strategies and market positions of the largest companies: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. It updates our annual analysis of each wholesaler’s business segments and underlying business profitability, based upon our proprietary economic models.

The notable new material in this 2023-24 edition includes:
  • New data about commercial pricing and reimbursement for provider-administered biosimilars appears in Section 3.2.2. and Section 6.4.3.
  • A new Section 6.2.2. reviews the evolving specialty pharmacy industry and discusses emerging challenges from direct distribution models that bypass wholesale distribution.
  • A new Section 6.3.2. analyzes the acquisitions of physician practices by corporate entities and private equity firms
  • A new Section 6.5. addresses the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. In Subsection 6.5.1., we summarize the key provisions of the law that relate to prescription drugs. In Subsection 6.5.2., we analyze the IRA’s likely consequences for wholesalers and the overall pharmaceutical business.
  • We provide updated, expanded, and reorganized data about the following markets:
    • Pharmacy services administrative organizations (Section 2.2.4.)
    • Group purchasing organizations for small pharmacies (Section 2.2.5.)
    • Group purchasing organizations for physician practices (Section 3.3.2.)
  • Material that addresses COVID-19 and its impact on the wholesale channel has been integrated into our analyses throughout the report. However, we have retained and updated Section 6.1.4., which examines the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
  • There are 163 exhibits in this 2023-24 edition, compared with 150 in the 2022-23 edition.
If you would like to pay by corporate purchase order or check, please email Tamra Feldman. If you preordered the report, you should have already received an email with download instructions. Please contact us if you did not receive the email.


Twice a year, I research and write two comprehensive, fact-based, and nonpartisan reports on drug channel economics. In some small way, I try to make the world a better and smarter place.

Licenses for our DCI reports are regularly purchased by nearly every entity involved in the drug channel: pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists, pharmacy owners, hospitals, buyers, benefit managers, managed care executives, policy analysts, investors, consultants, and more. So, you can find out what your customers, partners, and competitors are reading.

The 2023–24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors is the only resource of its kind available anywhere. It offers 163 proprietary charts, exhibits, and data tables.

  • The 9 chapters are self-contained and do not need to be read in order. (Really!) There are loads of internal hyperlinks to help you navigate the document and customize it to your specific interests and priorities.
  • We are offering the option to download an additional PowerPoint file with images of all 163 exhibits. This popular option helps you share the insights and data with others in your organization. (The exhibits appear in all license versions. The PowerPoint file option is available only with the purchase of a corporate license.)
  • There are more than 660 endnotes, most of which have hyperlinks to original source materials. These source materials offer a handy way to build your knowledge base beyond what’s included in the full report.
  • As usual, I have reluctantly stripped out the corny jokes and pop culture references.
If you have any questions (before or after reading the report), please email me.


Friday, October 06, 2023

Four Ways Digital Intake Can Transform Patient Support Programs, Overcome Access Barriers, and Improve Outcomes

Today’s guest post comes from Michael Carr, Group Vice President, CoAssist Pharmacy at AssistRx.

Michael discusses the challenges that patients and healthcare providers face during the prescription intake and enrollment process. He outlines four key features of solutions that improve digital intake.

To learn about AssistRx’s digital intake technologies, download their case study: Digital Intake for More Meaningful Patient and HCP Interactions.

Read on for Michael’s insights.

Thursday, October 05, 2023

The Economics of Copay Accumulators, Maximizers, and Alternative Funding Programs (Video) (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts while I put the finishing touches on DCI's new 2023-24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors.

One important update on copay accumulators since my original post from August 2023: U.S. District Court, District of Columbia struck down U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule allowing non-grandfathered individual and group plans to exclude manufacturers' copay assistance from deductibles. (Details and industry reactions here.) IMHO, this was a huge win for patients thanks to the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, and the Diabetes Leadership Council.

In my most recent video webinar, I explored how plans and PBMs are turning to novel—and highly controversial—benefit design tools that access manufacturers’ patient support spending: copay accumulators, maximizers, and alternative funding programs.

In the video excerpt below, I describe these new approaches that plans offset specialty drug expenses. I then follow the dollar to show how they impact plan, patient, and manufacturer costs when compared with traditional approaches to copay support.

During the full 90-minute webinar, I discussed seven crucial risks that could disrupt this market along with many other aspects of this emerging market. If this clip whets your appetite for more, you can purchase the 90-minute webinar replay and full slide deck here: PBMs and the Battle Over Patient Support Funds: Accumulators, Maximizers, and Alternative Funding.

Click here if you can’t see the video below.

Two recent Drug Channels article on these topics:
Errata: The formulary rebate in the mathematical example that begins at 4:40 should be shown as 16.7%, not 20%. We apologize for the error.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Gross-to-Net Bubble Update: 2022 Pricing Realities at 10 Top Drugmakers (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts while I put the finishing touches on DCI's new 2023-24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors.

Click here to see the original post from June 2023.

Time for Drug Channels’ annual update on pricing at the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers. This year’s review includes the following 10 companies: Eli Lilly and Company, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Takeda, and UCB. You can find links to each company’s data below.

When rebates and discounts were factored in, brand-name drug prices again declined—or grew slowly—in 2022. However, some companies had net price gains. Consistent with our previous analyses, rebates and discounts reduced the selling prices of brand-name drugs at the biggest drugmakers to less than half of their list prices.

For the eight companies with multiple years of data, the gross-to-net difference in price changes was the smallest gap in six years. See the second chart below.

As I have noted, powerful industry forces may trigger the gross-to-net bubble to deflate. But for now, the 2022 data provide fresh inconvenient facts for the drug pricing flat earthers (#DPFE).

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Four Crucial Questions about the Humira Biosimilar Price War (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts while I put the finishing touches on our new 2023-24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors.

Since I published the article below in July 2023, there have been three notable market develpoments:

The Humira biosimilar market has arrived!

This month, nine biosimilar versions of adalimumab launched in the U.S. market. As I predicted in 2021, some products launched with list prices that are only slightly lower than Humira’s list price, while others are trying to tempt payers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) with deep list price discounts.

Surprisingly, two PBMs—Express Scripts and OptumRx—will each offer at least one low-list-price biosimilar option on their main national formularies.

Below, I help you understand the current and future market dynamics by posing four questions about drug pricing, rebate walls, patient behavior, the gross-to-net bubble, pharmacy/wholesaler economics, and more.

No biosimilar has the trifecta of being high-concentration, citrate-free, and fully interchangeable. These shortcomings, combined with physician hesitancy, will limit the ability of price to drive adoption. But as I see it, the Humira price war signals that rebate walls will crumble and the gross-to-net bubble will pop. Will payers let Humira go?

Monday, October 02, 2023

Five (or Maybe Six?) Reasons that the Largest PBMs Operate Group Purchasing Organizations (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts while I put the finishing touches on DCI's new 2023-24 Economic Report on Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Specialty Distributors.

Click here to see the original post from May 2023.

In The Top Pharmacy Benefit Managers of 2022: Market Share and Trends for the Biggest Companies, I shared Drug Channels Institute's analysis showing that three pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)—the Caremark business of CVS Health, the Express Scripts business of Cigna, and the OptumRx business of UnitedHealth Group—accounted for about 80% of total equivalent prescription claims in 2022.

In recent years, each of these companies has launched new group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to further consolidate the number of covered lives in rebate negotiations with pharmaceutical manufacturers. Today, I examine these PBM-owned GPOs and then speculate on five plausible explanations for their existence. I also highlight a sixth, alleged rationale that is currently the subject of litigation.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently started investigating these GPOs. I wonder if this additional focus will deepen the FTC’s ongoing investigation—or slow it down even further?

Friday, September 29, 2023

More Than a Feeling: Five Key Challenges When Walking Away From Commercial/340B Duplicate Payments

Today’s guest post comes from Micah Litow, Chief Operating Officer at Kalderos.

According to Kalderos, at least 5% of commercial rebates are paid for prescriptions that also have discounts under the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Micah outlines why it's more than a feeling that manufacturers struggle to walk away from these duplicate payments. But as he explains, reliable data is crucial to avoid hearing that old song that PBMs play.

To learn about Kalderos’ Commercial Discount Monitoring solution, close your eyes and slip away with Micah at his free webinar on November 1, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. ET: Sharpening Focus: How Data Analytics Transforms Commercial Contracting Strategies.

Read on for Micah’s insights.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Drug Channels News Roundup, September 2023: PBM Profits, Specialty Rx Markups, CVS Spending Trends, Pharmacy Pricing Secrets, and Deductibles 101

Autumn is here! Curl up with your favorite pumpkin-spiced blog and savor these stories harvested from the great Drug Channels patch:
  • A must-read report on hidden sources of PBMs’ profits
  • How generic drugs drive specialty pharmacy profits
  • CVS Health’s unadvertised 2022 drug trend report
  • A shocking look at how PBMs set prescription prices
Plus, Dr. Glaucomflecken teaches us about our insurance benefits.

P.S. Join my more than 45,000 LinkedIn followers for daily links to neat stuff. You can also find my daily posts at @DrugChannels on Twitter/X, where I have more than 16,900 followers. (I recommend that you follow me on LinkedIn, because the quality of comments and engagement is much higher than they are on Twitter. I’m not posting to Threads yet.)

Sunday, September 24, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: The 340B Program Reached $54 Billion in 2022—Up 22% vs. 2021

Drug Channels has just obtained new details on the size of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. I couldn’t wait to share the news, hence this special Sunday post.

For 2022, discounted purchases under the 340B program reached a record $53.7 billion—an astonishing $9.8 billion (+22.3%) higher than its 2021 counterpart. The difference between list prices and discounted 340B purchases also grew, to $52.3 billion (+$2.6 billion). 

Hospitals accounted for 87% of 340B purchases for 2022. Every 340B covered entity type experienced double-digit growth, despite drug prices that grew more slowly than overall inflation.

Another surprise: HRSA estimated that manufacturers' contract pharmacy restrictions reduced 340B purchases by only $470 million—or less than 1% of 2022's total purchases. That's far below the figure quoted by 340B lobbyists.

Once again, the data demonstrate that 340B advocates are wrong when they claim that manufacturers are “stripping critical resources from the nation’s health care safety net.” As I noted last year, only in the U.S. healthcare system can billions more in payments and spreads be considered a cut.

Read on for full details and analysis, including the opportunity to download your own copy of the raw data from HRSA.

Friday, September 22, 2023

A Clear Path to Medication Affordability Requires Meeting Patients Where They Are

Today’s guest post comes from Kristina Crockett, VP of Product Management at CoverMyMeds.

Kristina shares the story of a patient who cut pills in half to extend her prescriptions. Unfortunately, this patient didn’t know about manufacturer affordability programs.

In this article, Kristina reviews how brands can help patients make connections that address medication affordability challenges, whether at the prescriber’s office, the pharmacy, or at home.

To learn about CoverMyMeds’ medication affordability solutions that engage patients, download the CoverMyMeds white paper: Overcoming Affordability Challenges with Patient-Centered Solutions.

Read on for Kristina’s insights.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

NEW: The Drug Channels 2024 Video Webinar Series

Drug Channel Institute is pleased to announce The Drug Channels 2024 Video Webinar Series.

Join Dr. Adam J. Fein for three live video webinars during 2024. These live, interactive events will be broadcast via Zoom from the Drug Channels Video studio in beautiful downtown Philadelphia.

During these events, Dr. Fein will address the latest issues confronting the U.S. drug channel. Topics will be determined based on what’s happening—trends, policy changes, company announcements, and more. He’ll share DCI’s latest market data to help you stay on top of new developments. You will be able to use these events as both a capstone of your current learning and a touchpoint for the future.

The three events are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET on the following dates:
  • March 29, 2024
  • June 21, 2024
  • December 13, 2024 (Drug Channels Outlook 2025)
For 2024, we are offering a Corporate Pricing option that will allow larger organizations to register hundreds of colleagues for one fixed price. Please contact Paula Fein (paula@drugchannels.net) for details and custom pricing for your organization.

Read on for full details on pricing, including substantial discounts for multiple sites.

P.S. If you're not familiar with our webinars, click here to watch brief excerpts from our 2023 video webinars.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Do Plan Sponsors Understand How Their PBMs Make Money?

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability will hold a hearing with a subtle and not-at-all pejorative title: The Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Prescription Drug Markets Part II: Not What the Doctor Ordered.

To help you prepare, I share fresh insights from a new survey of PBMs’ plan sponsor clients. As you will see, clients are somewhat more satisfied with the perceived transparency of smaller PBMs. However, satisfaction with transparency of the Big Three PBMs—CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx—is only a smidge behind smaller PBMs.

From my perspective, this counterintuitive result reflects how the PBM profit model has evolved. A plan sponsor can feel satisfied with its larger PBM’s transparency, while remaining blissfully unaware of how its PBM actually earns money. I outline some of these novel profit sources below.

Can plan sponsors get some satisfaction? Read on for what I say.