The Top 15 U.S. Pharmacies of 2018: M&A Reshapes the Market

Next week, Drug Channels Institute will release our 2019 Economic Report on U.S. Pharmacies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers. It’s the tenth edition of our popular and comprehensive examination of the entire drug pricing, reimbursement, and dispensing system. The exhibit below—one of 180 in our new report—provides a first look at the 15 largest pharmacies, ranked by total U.S. prescription dispensing revenues for calendar year 2018. As you will see, vertical and horizontal mergers and acquisitions are reshaping the pharmacy and PBM industries—and enabling the big to get even bigger. I highlight some of the major transactions that affected our ranking. … Continue reading The Top 15 U.S. Pharmacies of 2018: M&A Reshapes the Market

Specialty Pharmacy M&A: Our Look at 2018’s Deals

Let’s kick off 2019 with a quick review of last year’s specialty pharmacy mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Our list (below) includes only deals that were publicly announced in 2018. Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) were especially busy. CVS Health bought five specialty pharmacies. UnitedHealth’s OptumRx bought Avella Specialty Pharmacy, the largest independent specialty pharmacy. Diplomat Pharmacy was uncharacteristically quiet during 2018, though it had been one of the most active acquirers in previous years. The specialty pharmacy industry is rapidly maturing, so I expect many more exits in the coming years. Looking to pick up a fast-growing specialty pharmacy? Click here … Continue reading Specialty Pharmacy M&A: Our Look at 2018’s Deals

Surprise Deal: Cardinal Health Sells Its Specialty Pharmacy (Again)

The evolving specialty market has just claimed another victim. Cardinal Health is selling its specialty pharmacy to BioMatrix Specialty Pharmacy LLC, a private-equity-backed company. There was no public announcement, so today’s article counts as another Drug Channels exclusive. Below, I provide background about BioMatrix and the specialty pharmacies that wholesalers operate. Cardinal’s capitulation highlights the challenges for smaller specialty pharmacies. Cardinal operates a small, sub-scale specialty pharmacy that has had difficulty attracting patients. What’s more, Cardinal’s overall size as a $137 billion business couldn’t help its pharmacy gain sufficient access to manufacturers’ and payers’ limited networks. Each of the Big … Continue reading Surprise Deal: Cardinal Health Sells Its Specialty Pharmacy (Again)

Does Rite Aid Have the Grit to Succeed With Its EnvisionRx PBM Business?

Let’s check in with poor ol’ Rite Aid, the little drugstore that couldn’t. Over the past year and half, Rite Aid has sold off 2,000 stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance, scuttled a proposed merger with Albertsons, and watched its stock price drop from nearly $9 to about $1. Yikes. Rite Aid’s EnvisionRx business, which includes two small PBMs and some related pharmacy services businesses, still has some value. But as you will see below, there appear to be few synergies between Rite Aid’s pharmacy business and the Envision PBMs. Investors are grumbling that Rite Aid should sell EnvisionRx before things … Continue reading Does Rite Aid Have the Grit to Succeed With Its EnvisionRx PBM Business?

The Cigna-Express Scripts Deal’s Intriguing Connections With—And Implications For—AmerisourceBergen and Walgreens

Almost there! Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division closed its investigation of Cigna’s proposed acquisition of Express Scripts. Click here to read the DOJ’s closing statement. As with everything in the U.S. drug channel, there’s more to this transaction than meets the eye. Below, I explain how the transaction will benefit AmerisourceBergen (ABC), which supplies the mail and specialty pharmacies of Express Scripts. But as you’ll see, Express Scripts has been relying less on ABC as a source of supply for its mail and specialty pharmacies. Meanwhile, the new organization transaction will have few degrees of … Continue reading The Cigna-Express Scripts Deal’s Intriguing Connections With—And Implications For—AmerisourceBergen and Walgreens

How 2017’s Fastest-Growing, Private Specialty Pharmacies Highlight an Industry Slowdown

Time for our annual review of the Inc. 5000 list, the magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. The list offers a valuable snapshot of the dynamic specialty pharmacy industry. This marks our sixth annual review of the list. We have identified nine specialty pharmacies on the 2018 list, which is based upon revenue growth from 2014 to 2017. Annual revenues range from $61.3 million to $1.4 billion. The companies on the list are larger but growing more slowly than those in our previous analyses. The pharmacies and key stats are listed below. For the … Continue reading How 2017’s Fastest-Growing, Private Specialty Pharmacies Highlight an Industry Slowdown

Amazon Buys PillPack: Six Pharmacy and Drug Channel Implications

It’s official! After more than a year of speculation and rumors, Amazon has entered the pharmacy business with its acquisition of PillPack, a small mail pharmacy. Consider this move to be the end of the beginning for the pharmacy industry’s evolution. The stock prices of pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) predictably plunged yesterday as everyone freaked out. CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Rite Aid collectively lost more than $11 billion in stock market value. Below, I offer my initial observations on the transaction and its impact. But let’s all keep some perspective here. This is a small first … Continue reading Amazon Buys PillPack: Six Pharmacy and Drug Channel Implications

McKesson’s Choppy Cs: Consolidating Customers and Challenging Contracts

Pharmaceutical wholesalers are no longer growth companies. They are struggling with ever larger customers, ongoing generic deflation, and the downsides of specialty pharmacy. McKesson has illustrated these challenges in the financial results for its 2018 fiscal year. (See the links below.) The company projects that its 2019 fiscal year distribution profits will be flat to negative, due to customer losses and/or lower margins from contract renewals. Below, I consider McKesson’s challenges with many of its largest customers, including: CVS Health Rite Aid Albertsons Ahold Delhaize Cigna Like its peers, McKesson faces an uncomfortable conflux of uncommon customer crosswinds. Investors are … Continue reading McKesson’s Choppy Cs: Consolidating Customers and Challenging Contracts

Drug Channels News Roundup, May 2018: CVS Caremark, Albertsons/Rite Aid, Copay Accumulators, and A World Without PBM Rebates

It’s almost June—wedding season! Our invitation to the recent royal nuptials apparently got lost in the mail, but I invite you to our own monthly shower of noteworthy news: More questions about CVS Caremark’s profits in Ohio’s managed Medicaid programs Albertsons and Rite Aid reveal new details about their pharmacy plans HIV service organizations warn of patient dangers from copay accumulators Plus, we revisit the classic Drug Channels black swan article for hints to a future without PBM rebates. P.S. @DrugChannels on Twitter is now approaching 6,000 followers. Throw some rice and enjoy my daily tweets of interesting news, stories, … Continue reading Drug Channels News Roundup, May 2018: CVS Caremark, Albertsons/Rite Aid, Copay Accumulators, and A World Without PBM Rebates

Cigna-Express Scripts: Vertical Integration and PBMs’ Medical-Pharmacy Future (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts while I attend Asembia’s 2018 Specialty Pharmacy Summit. Click here to see the original post and comments from March 2018. Wow. Yesterday, Cigna announced that it would acquire Express Scripts. See the links below. Though Cigna was an unexpected acquirer, the deal confirms the importance of pharmacy and medical benefit integration. It also reinforces the role that pharmacy benefit management (PBM) plays in the drug channel. PBMs are now linked closely to the expensive specialty drugs that treat smaller patient populations, not to the primary care blockbusters of yesteryear. The strategic logic, however, … Continue reading Cigna-Express Scripts: Vertical Integration and PBMs’ Medical-Pharmacy Future (rerun)