Thursday, February 22, 2018

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 207)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

The costs shared here are what the pharmacy actually pays; not AWP, MAC or WAC. The bottom line; payers must have access to actual acquisition costs or AAC. Apply this knowledge to hold PBMs accountable and lower plan expenditures for stakeholders.




How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Prescription Drug Coupons: A One-Size-Fits-All Policy Approach Doesn’t Fit The Evidence

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Drug manufacturer coupons used by consumers to reduce the size of their prescription copayments are increasingly under fire by federal and state policy makers, as well as by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Medicare and Medicaid consider them kickbacks and completely ban their use.

Critics contend that the coupons force insurers to cover more expensive brand drugs and cause overall costs to rise. The counterpoint is also simple. With rising drug copayments, especially for innovative branded medicines, coupons reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs and provide access to needed therapies.

But the truth is more complex, lying somewhere between these simple arguments. Using data collected from coupon aggregators and commercial insurance claims from 2014, we find that these two sides represent extreme ends of the debate, overlooking key clinical and economic forces. Most importantly, the results of the analysis point to a need for more nuanced policy responses to ensure that patients who currently rely on coupons are not harmed.

Tyrone's Commentary: 

I'm not one of those individuals who dislikes drug coupons that would be selfish and myopic. However, I do agree that patients should not be rewarded by having coupon amounts applied to their deductible or MOOP. Let's be honest, non-fiduciary PBMs and health plans don't like coupons because typically the products with coupons available won't pay rebates or steers patients away from those that do which reduces the revenue a non-fiduciary PBM would have earned from those products otherwise. Plan sponsors follow suit because their PBM or carrier says it's a bad thing. If a patient is unable to start or complete specialty drug therapy, due to cost which a coupon may have alleviated, the resulting hospital bill will cost more in the long run. Is it about the patient or not? 

Policy Implications

Manufacturers may offer coupons for a variety of reasons: to induce patients to fill the drug prescribed by their physician rather than a substitute preferred by their PBM or plan; to respond to other manufacturers’ competitive tactics; or simply to improve access for patients who face high copays.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Biosimilars Are Not "Generic" Versions Of Expensive Biologic Medicines

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Biologics are complex molecules, modifying our immune responses to specific chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or irritable bowel disease. They are manufactured by placing genes into host cells who through transcription and translation provide the core protein. Biosimilars are biologics “generic” equivalents, except they are not.
The reverse engineering of the DNA, choice of a host cell and the subsequent isolation and purification of the core protein make them similar but not identical. In the lock and key world of drugs, where a drug, the key, must fit into another structure, the lock, to be effective, the shape of that key may mean the lock opens, or doesn’t, or even require a bit of twisting and finagling. Biosimilars have an identical primary structure as their biologic but other factors, influencing shape may and do differ

Tyrone's Commentary:

Biosimilars aren't just similar but are in fact highly similar. While the FDA is not perfect it wouldn't approve a biosimilar that is simply "similar" to a biologic. This same skepticism surrounded generic drugs in the early 2000s before they eventually took off and now account for 89% of all drugs being dispensed in the USA compared to 60% in 2005. In some cases, the plan sponsor would be wise to forgo the rebates for biologics and instead opt for the lower net cost biosimilars provide. Of course, non-fiduciary PBMs will not push for this if they're generating revenue from biologic manufacturers for the dispensation of their products. 
How the FDA approves these slightly different keys and their impact on the care of our patients, that is the first concern of the rheumatologists; the second is the cost and economics.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Reference Pricing: "Gross" Invoice Cost for Popular Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs (Volume 206)

This document is updated weekly, but why is it important? Healthcare marketers are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams to augment lower reimbursements provided under PPACA. Prescription drugs, particularly specialty, are key drivers in the growth strategies of PBMs, TPAs and MCOs pursuant to health care reform.

The costs shared here are what the pharmacy actually pays; not AWP, MAC or WAC. The bottom line; payers must have access to actual acquisition costs or AAC. Apply this knowledge to hold PBMs accountable and lower plan expenditures for stakeholders.



How to Determine if Your Company [or Client] is Overpaying

Step #1:  Obtain a price list for generic prescription drugs from your broker, TPA, ASO or PBM every month.