340B Health Gets It Wrong … Again

This week, Drug Channels published our annual update on the growth of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. See 340B Program Purchases Reach $24.3 Billion—7%+ of the Pharma Market—As Hospitals’ Charity Care Flatlines. Right on cue, 340B Health, which lobbies for hospitals that participate in the 340B program, immediately issued its annual rebuttal of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) data that we used. 340B Health was particularly distressed that our analyses “focused on 340B sales instead of discounts.” Below, you will see that when the program is measured using 340B Health’s suggested approach, it accounted for 9% to 11% … Continue reading 340B Health Gets It Wrong … Again

EXCLUSIVE: 340B Program Purchases Reach $24.3 Billion—7%+ of the Pharma Market—As Hospitals’ Charity Care Flatlines

The 340B Drug Pricing Program continues to expand at double-digit rates. According to our government contacts, discounted 340B purchases hit a record $24.3 billion in 2018. That figure is an astonishing 26% higher than its 2017 counterpart. What’s more, we have found that since 2014, purchases under the program have grown at an average rate of 28% per year. By comparison, manufacturers’ net drug revenues have grown at an average rate of below 5% over the same period. Consequently, the 340B program has grown to account for at least 7% to 8% of the total U.S. drug market. Nearly all … Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: 340B Program Purchases Reach $24.3 Billion—7%+ of the Pharma Market—As Hospitals’ Charity Care Flatlines

The Specialty Pharmacy Boom: Our Exclusive Update on the U.S. Market

It’s time for Drug Channels Institute’s annual update of the number of U.S. specialty pharmacies. As always, I had outstanding research assistance. (See photo at right.) But even we can’t count the total number of pharmacies dispensing specialty drugs, since any pharmacy can designate itself a specialty pharmacy. We therefore counted every pharmacy location that had achieved accreditation by an independent organization. Our exclusive findings: As of the end of 2018, more than 900 unique pharmacy locations had achieved specialty pharmacy accreditation from one or more of three major independent accreditation organizations. The 2018 figure marks a 25% increase over … Continue reading The Specialty Pharmacy Boom: Our Exclusive Update on the U.S. Market

Latest CMS Forecast: Hospitals and Physicians Will Grab Most of the $1.3 Trillion Increase in U.S. Healthcare Spending

The econowonks at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently published new projections for U.S. National Health Expenditures (NHE). You’ll find links and my data analysis below. As you will see, total U.S. spending on healthcare is projected to grow, from $3.5 trillion in 2017 to $4.8 trillion in 2023. Spending on hospitals and professional services is expected to grow by a combined $750 billion—about 59% of CMS’s projected $1.3 trillion increase in U.S. healthcare spending. CMS also projects that spending on outpatient prescription drugs will account for only 9% of the total increase in U.S. healthcare … Continue reading Latest CMS Forecast: Hospitals and Physicians Will Grab Most of the $1.3 Trillion Increase in U.S. Healthcare Spending

GAO Confirms It: 340B Hospitals and Contract Pharmacies Profit from Low-Income, Uninsured Patients (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts before the holidays. Click here to see the original post and comments from July 2018. Expect 340B to stay in the news during 2019. Unfortunately, a sensible, bipartisan legislative fix still seems unlikely. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just issued a must-read report on the 340B Drug Pricing Program: Federal Oversight of Compliance at 340B Contract Pharmacies Needs Improvement. Some of the report’s most startling revelations confirm our worst fears about how hospitals and pharmacies are abusing the 340B program. Here are two especially dispiriting findings from the GAO’s analysis: … Continue reading GAO Confirms It: 340B Hospitals and Contract Pharmacies Profit from Low-Income, Uninsured Patients (rerun)

Pharmacist Salaries Keep Rising: Hospitals Continue to Lead in Wage and Employment Growth

Time to update our exclusive annual analysis of pharmacist salaries. We again rely on the latest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For 2017, the average gross base salary for a pharmacist at a retail, mail, long-term care, and specialty pharmacy reached nearly $122,000—up slightly from the 2016 figure. Meanwhile, the share of pharmacists who work at hospitals reached a new high. Pharmacists who work at hospitals also had higher salaries and greater salary increases than those of pharmacists in outpatient dispensing formats. Some people have predicted doom and gloom for pharmacists. These latest … Continue reading Pharmacist Salaries Keep Rising: Hospitals Continue to Lead in Wage and Employment Growth

Drug Channels News Roundup, September 2018: Gilead’s Price Cuts, Out-of-Pocket Costs, Hospital-Physician Vertical Integration, and WXPN + Me

Autumn is here, and we’ve squirrelled away some great acorns that have fallen from the mighty Drug Channels oak trees: Gilead’s new pricing starts to pop the gross-to-net bubble New fact-based insights on patient out-of-pocket costs and prescription abandonment Cool new stats on hospital-physician vertical integration by specialty The U.S. healthcare crisis will probably never end (Sorry.) Plus, your friendly neighborhood blogger joins the board of 88.5 WXPN, the country’s leading non-commercial Triple A (adult, album, alternative) radio station. P.S. Follow my daily stream of links to neat stuff at @DrugChannels on Twitter.Recent tweets have highlighted rebates, step therapy, PSAOs, … Continue reading Drug Channels News Roundup, September 2018: Gilead’s Price Cuts, Out-of-Pocket Costs, Hospital-Physician Vertical Integration, and WXPN + Me

Updated Part B Data: Hospitals Are Displacing Physician Offices Even Faster Than We Thought

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the independent agency that advises Congress on the Medicare program, recently released its latest annual report: June 2018 Data Book: Health Care Spending and the Medicare Program. It’s a charming, 216-page data romp through all aspects of Medicare. Chapter 10 focuses on prescription drugs. This year’s report provides new and revised details about the locations where Part B buy-and-bill spending occurs. As you will see below, physician offices account for a smaller share of spending than what we previously reported. Hospital outpatient departments account for a higher share. What’s more, the new MedPAC data … Continue reading Updated Part B Data: Hospitals Are Displacing Physician Offices Even Faster Than We Thought

EXCLUSIVE: The 340B Program Reached $19.3 Billion in 2017—As Hospitals’ Charity Care Has Dropped (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts before the Labor Day weekend. Click here to see the original post and comments from May 2018. Note that the data from this post were provided to me by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)! ICYMI, be sure to read yesterday’s New York Times article: A Little-Known Windfall for Some Hospitals, Now Facing Big Cuts The 340B Drug Pricing Program continues to expand at double-digit rates. Our research reveals that these discounted sales hit a record $19.3 billion in 2017. What’s more, we found that since 2014, purchases under the program have … Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: The 340B Program Reached $19.3 Billion in 2017—As Hospitals’ Charity Care Has Dropped (rerun)

Still Possible: Hospitals Overcharge Health Plans for Specialty Drugs

Over the years on Drug Channels, I have explained the two primary reasons a drug’s list price doesn’t reflect what a third-party payer actually spends for that drug: (1) channel intermediaries and providers add markups that account for the costs, profits, and value of the services, and (2) manufacturers provide rebates and discounts to third-party payers. Two recently-released reports confirm the often-overlooked magnitude of provider markups. As you will see below, commercial payers use reimbursement approaches that permit hospitals to inflate specialty drug costs by thousands of dollars per claim when compared with physician offices. This is not about differences … Continue reading Still Possible: Hospitals Overcharge Health Plans for Specialty Drugs