Specialty Pharmacies and PBMs Penetrate the 340B Program—And How Manufacturers Should Respond

In two recent Drug Channels articles, I have documented the phenomenal growth in pharmacies participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program and the superior profits that pharmacies earn from the program. Today, I turn to the less well-known role of specialty pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers, which are now significant participants as 340B contract pharmacies. Below, we present our first exclusive analysis of how independent and PBM-owned specialty pharmacies have deepened their relationships with hospitals and other 340B covered entities. We estimate that nearly 10% of all specialty prescriptions are dispensed by 340B contract pharmacies, which makes this channel one … Continue reading Specialty Pharmacies and PBMs Penetrate the 340B Program—And How Manufacturers Should Respond

Our Exclusive Analysis: Nearly One in Three U.S. Pharmacies Is a 340B Contract Pharmacy; Five Chains Dominate

Pharmacies continue to profit from the 340B Drug Pricing Program’s explosive growth. Our latest exclusive analysis finds that about 21,600 pharmacy locations now act as contract pharmacies for the hospitals and other healthcare providers that participate in the 340B program. The total number of locations has grown by 9% over the past 12 months. The five largest retail pharmacy chains—Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Albertsons/Rite Aid, and Kroger—account for two-thirds of 340B contract pharmacy locations. This growth is unsurprising. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has now documented the tremendous profits available to 340B contract pharmacies. See GAO Confirms It: 340B Hospitals … Continue reading Our Exclusive Analysis: Nearly One in Three U.S. Pharmacies Is a 340B Contract Pharmacy; Five Chains Dominate

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

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: 16 out of 28 hospitals (57%!) did not provide discounted drug prices to low-income, uninsured patients who filled prescriptions at the hospital’s 340B contract pharmacy. Seriously?!? Many 340B contract pharmacies can earn excessive profit margins of 15% to 20% from … Continue reading GAO Confirms It: 340B Hospitals and Contract Pharmacies Profit from Low-Income, Uninsured Patients

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

Why Retail Pharmacies Still Overcharge Uninsured Patients—And What That Means for Amazon (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts before the holiday week. Click here to see the original post and comments from April 2018. Consumer Reports recently published a fascinating survey of pharmacies’ cash prices for five common generic drug prescriptions. The results were startling. Prescription prices ranged from $66 to $1,351—a nearly 2,000% difference. The big three retail drugstore chains—CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid—consistently had higher average prices compared with those of other pharmacies. Independent pharmacies had some of the lowest prices, but also some of the highest prices. Our analysis of prescription profits highlights the pharmacy industry’s unfortunate pricing … Continue reading Why Retail Pharmacies Still Overcharge Uninsured Patients—And What That Means for Amazon (rerun)

Meet The Power Buyers Driving Generic Drug Deflation (rerun)

This week, I’m rerunning some popular posts before the holiday week. Click here to see the original post and comments from February 2018. Wholesalers and retailers have deepened their relationships via generic purchasing consortia—and generic drug makers are feeling the pain. Example: Novartis’ Sandoz business unit reported that its fourth-quarter 2017 sales dropped by 17% “due to increased industry-wide pricing pressure and continued customer consolidation.” (source) Below, we examine the four generic drug mega-buyers behind this pressure: Red Oak, Walgreens Boots Alliance, McKesson and ClarusOne, and Express Script’s EconDisc. We estimate that in 2017, these four organizations accounted for an … Continue reading Meet The Power Buyers Driving Generic Drug Deflation (rerun)

Drug Channels News Roundup, June 2018: Fake News from AHIP, Azar Blasts Rebates, Sanofi’s Pricing, Asembia in Vegas, and Justice for Gingers

Summer is here! Before you launch your incredible vacation, please enjoy these super Drug Channels stories: AHIP misrepresents drug spending data HHS Secretary Azar tells Congress about “a system without rebates” Sanofi discloses a major gross-to-net gap and declining drug prices Asembia shares video highlights from Las Vegas Plus: a major social justice win for your humble correspondent. P.S. Follow my daily links to neat stuff at @DrugChannels on Twitter. Recent tweets have covered new drug spending data, M&A news, pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) activities, retail clinics, copay accumulators, track-and-trace, and more. Read more » Copyright © 2006-2018 Pembroke Consulting, … Continue reading Drug Channels News Roundup, June 2018: Fake News from AHIP, Azar Blasts Rebates, Sanofi’s Pricing, Asembia in Vegas, and Justice for Gingers

How Walgreens Got Taken: Read This Fantastic New Book About Theranos

Here’s your must-read summer book: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It’s the thought provoking and gripping cautionary tale of Theranos, a business that raised $900 million to “disrupt” the lab testing business. Alas, Elizabeth Holmes, the company’s founder and CEO, and her former chief commercial officer appear to have misrepresented and falsified almost everything about the company and its technology. Last week, they were both indicted by the Justice department. Bad Blood is one of the best non-fiction business books I have ever read. Drug Channels readers may enjoy some schadenfreude about the hapless behavior … Continue reading How Walgreens Got Taken: Read This Fantastic New Book About Theranos

Profits in the 2018 Fortune 500: Manufacturers vs. Wholesalers, PBMs, and Pharmacies

Time for my annual review of the Fortune 500 list. Every year, this is one of my most popular posts, because it helps us follow the dollar and understand how drug channel intermediaries make money. Our analysis also provides crucial background for understanding the Trump administration’s drug pricing blueprint. Fortune’s 2018 list contains the same seven drug channel companies that the 2017 list did: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Express Scripts, McKesson, Rite Aid, and Walgreens Boots Alliance. Using the Fortune data, I explore the profitability and shareholder returns of the largest public drug wholesalers, chain pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit … Continue reading Profits in the 2018 Fortune 500: Manufacturers vs. Wholesalers, PBMs, and Pharmacies

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