Pharmaceutical Companies Not Seeing Majority of Drug Revenue

A new study finds that pharmaceutical companies may not be retaining a majority of profits accrued from prescription drug sales.

In a study conducted by Berkeley Research Group, the investigators found that pharmaceutical companies only realize 39% of initial gross drug expenditures.

Prescription drug spending has skyrocketed in the last few years, which has caused many stakeholders to demand increased pricing transparency. Pricing scandals, such as the recent outrage over EpiPen, has caused Americans to become skeptical about the reasoning behind dramatic drug price increases.

Certain measurements of drug costs do not show the whole picture, and can lead to an inaccurate picture of the gross spend by the customer, and an overstatement of the profits made by manufacturers, according to the study.

Although the chain of payment can be complicated, it can be summed up by 3 transactions: initial gross spending on the drugs by patients and insurers, discounts, and rebates/fees paid by the manufacturer. This multi-step chain of wholesalers, pharmacies, and other entities can create confusion about drug costs.

Wholesalers purchase the drugs that are then sold to pharmacies and healthcare providers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) negotiate lower prices through their buying power for certain health plans or employers.

Due to the lengthy supply chain, prices inflate down the line, which leads to patients paying higher prices for their prescription drugs. However, manufacturers do provide rebates and discounts to certain patients, health plans, or PBMs, which results in lower costs.

Additionally, manufacturers are required to provide significant discounts to government health plans and other government institutions, such as Medicare or Medicaid. This acts to reduce net spending by the government, but also reduces profits realized by pharmaceutical companies, according to the study.

In the study, the investigators considered rebates, discounts, and fees paid, to show a more complex picture of pharmaceutical manufacturers’ profits and spending.

See more at: http://www.specialtypharmacytimes.com/news/pharmaceutical-companies-not-seeing-majority-of-drug-revenue#sthash.HNdgqrIY.dpuf

“Gross” Invoice Cost for Top Selling Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs – Volume 152

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.


Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement.  It’s impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is a 5% or more price differential (paid versus actual cost) we consider this a problem.

Multiple price differential discoveries means that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

— Tip —

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

When better pricing is discovered the contract language should stipulate the client be indemnified. Do not allow the PBM to limit the market check language to a similar size client, benefit design and/or drug utilization. In this case, the market check language is effectually meaningless.

Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. has published a new report on the state of specialty pharmaceuticals

Click to Enlarge

The report offers insight on developments in emerging specialty therapies. Last year, the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved 22 novel new drugs. While there was a reduction in novel new drugs compared to previous years, there were several expanded indications for previously approved therapies that allowed these drugs to reach additional patient populations. New approvals included a mix of oncology, immunology, rare diseases, and other disease states.

Although the quantity of novel new drugs was lower in 2016, important new drugs became available in each of the broad disease states covered by specialty pharmacy. Specialty drug products accounted for approximately half of new drugs and biologics approved in 2016, similarly to in 2015. Nine specialty agents were approved for rare diseases.

“The specialty pharmacy industry continues to show exceptional growth,” said Paul Urick, Diplomat’s president. “The development of new drugs, as well as expanded indications for previously approved treatments continues to make the robust specialty drug pipeline one of the major drivers of growth.”

The pipeline is expected to produce more novel new oral oncology drug approvals in 2017 than in 2016, with multiple approvals forecasted in breast cancer and blood cancers.

To view the report, visit http://bit.ly/2jnTRwl.

Secret rebates erode drugmaker revenue, industry study says

Branded drug companies’ share of total U.S. spending on their products is declining, in part because of an increase in secret rebates paid to middlemen, according to an analysis sponsored by an industry group that’s been seeking to deflect scrutiny of rising prices.

Of the estimated $349.1 billion that insurers and patients paid for brand-name drugs in 2015, $218.6 billion, or 63 percent, was realized as revenue by drugmakers, according to an analysis paid for by the Washington drug lobby, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. In 2013, pharma companies kept $177.5 billion, or 67 percent, of the $264.9 billion in gross expenditures for brand-name drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies are facing pressure from Washington lawmakers and patients over increasing prices for medications such as insulin, which diabetics need to survive. At a press conference last week, President-elect Donald Trump said the industry is “getting away with murder” and threatened to force companies to bid for government business. Drugmakers say significant discounts and rebates paid to middlemen, such as pharmacy benefit managers that negotiate prices for insurers and other payers, reduce their revenue.

“Manufacturers are offering greater and greater rebates to gain access to patients,” Aaron Vandervelde, managing director at the Berkeley Research Group consulting firm and the report’s lead author, said in an interview. “That is largely offsetting the list price increases.”

Overall, branded drug makers paid $106.4 billion in discounts, fees and rebates to health plans, pharmacy benefit managers and U.S. government health programs in 2015, up from $67 billion in 2013, according to the report. The Berkeley analysis is one of the first attempts to add up the variety of rebates and discounts paid on brand-name drugs, exact details of which are closely guarded trade secrets.

The consulting group also estimated markups and fees taken at various stages of the drug supply chain, including by distributors, pharmacies and the health-care providers who administer medications. Overall, the analysis found that branded drug companies paid $57.7 billion in rebates to pharmacy benefit managers and health plans in 2015, up from $33.2 billion in 2013. In addition, the companies paid $28.3 billion in rebates under the Medicaid program for the poor, up from $19.1 billion in 2013.

“Much of the media and much of the public discussion is focused on the list price” for drugs, Stephen Ubl, PhRMA’s CEO, said in a telephone interview. “This study is the first to show what happens when list price meets the forces of the private market.”

Pharmacy benefit managers have said their negotiations help keep drug prices in check, in part by pitting rival drugmakers against each other to get better deals.

The report “shows something that we’ve been saying all along: that payers have been demanding and getting bigger and bigger discounts and rebates as drug prices rise,” said Mark Merritt, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, an industry association that represents PBMs.

While individual clients of PBMs can get rebate information, Merritt said that it would undermine competition in the market to publicize detailed information on rebate amounts.

By Robert Langreth

“Gross” Invoice Cost for Top Selling Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs – Volume 151

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.


Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement.  It’s impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is a 5% or more price differential (paid versus actual cost) we consider this a problem.

Multiple price differential discoveries means that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

— Tip —

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

When better pricing is discovered the contract language should stipulate the client be indemnified. Do not allow the PBM to limit the market check language to a similar size client, benefit design and/or drug utilization. In this case, the market check language is effectually meaningless.

Plan Sponsors Zero In on Specialty Pharmacy Costs in 2017 Benefits

Plan sponsors are focusing hard on specialty pharmacy costs for 2017, looking at unbundling specialty pharmacy from PBM services and considering contracts with closed-door specialty pharmacies as a way to control costs, pharmacy benefit insiders tell DBN.

At the same time, employers are pursuing retail networks that sell a 90-day supply of medication, point-of-sale rebates and more granular formulary strategies to further hone their 2017 strategies and manage a benefit that’s been getting some unfavorable public attention.

“I think 2017 will be a very active year for contracting and price negotiation in the industry,” says Josh Golden, area senior vice president, client development at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.’s Solid Benefit Guidance consulting arm.

Click to learn more

“Clients are realizing that annual contract housekeeping is needed to keep pace with the financial dynamics of the industry,” Golden tells DBN. “The past year has brought about significant changes in industry economics — the growth of inflation protection [clauses], increasing reliance on patient-assistance funding — and employers are rightfully worried that their contracts are out of sync with the realities of the marketplace.”

In particular, specialty pharmacy management has been moving beyond what Golden calls the “basic blocking and tackling” of prior authorizations and formulary management.

“Our larger clients are now starting to manage specialty holistically across their pharmacy and medical plans, pursuing site-of-care strategies to optimize cost, and balancing their benefit designs to ensure proper alignment,” he says. “And more progressive plan sponsors are exploring drug-specific specialty copays, specifically tailored to capitalize on patient-assistance funding that’s available from manufacturers.”

David Dross, national pharmacy practice leader, Mercer Health & Benefits, also has seen this trend. He tells DBN there’s a lot more interest among plan sponsors about managing specialty pharmacy across the continuum of medical and pharmacy benefits.

“We’re starting to look at it by disease state — which one [medical or pharmacy benefit] is doing a better job on a particular disease state,” Dross says. “If we find a pharmacy plan is doing a better job managing multiple sclerosis than the medical plan, then we may say that those medications aren’t covered under the medical plan.”

Mercer last month partnered with Envolve Pharmacy Solutions and Magellan Rx Management to offer a new specialty pharmacy solution, with competitive pricing, targeted clinical management, patient-assistance program facilitation and access to limited-distribution drugs (DBN 10/7/16, p. 8).

“It appeals to consumers and is higher-touch patient management,” Dross says. Specialty pharmacy is garnering additional attention for the 2017 plan year, with a focus on tighter and more exclusive specialty formularies and recognition that specialty is a big cost driver.

Robert Ferraro, principal, national pharmacy practice at Xerox Corporation’s Buck Consultants, agrees that the issue of how to manage specialty drugs going forward is the main issue he sees for 2017.

Should Specialty Rx Be Run Separately?

“You’re starting to see larger employers consider the notion of unbundling specialty drug fulfillment and management from the PBM,” Ferraro says. “The question is whether it makes sense to bundle those services together or whether you can get better outcomes and get better management by unbundling” and hiring a closed-door specialty pharmacy such as those run by Diplomat Pharmacy Inc. or Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Another question cropping up for plan sponsors in 2017 is whether a third party should provide prior-authorization services rather than the PBM, Ferraro says. “Does it make sense to have the same entity manage and approve claims when that entity stands to benefit when claims are approved?” he asks. As an alternative, plan sponsors can hire a utilization management company to handle those services.

At this point, only the largest employers are considering this issue, he says, but “there could be a lot of fast followers,” given that specialty pharmacy costs and claims for tens of thousands of dollars in drug spend are on plan sponsors’ minds.

For PBMs, all this may not be good news. “We see the prevailing model of bundling all services within the PBM one of the past, particularly for larger employers with the capacity to manage multiple vendors,” Ferraro says. “For smaller employers, that’s probably not a good model for them.”

Continue Reading >>

Pharmacy Benefit Manager disclosure law preempted by federal benefits law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled

PBM disclosure is earned not given.
Click to learn more.

The 2014 law forces pharmacy benefit managers to disclose pricing methodology to Iowa’s insurance commissioner and to allow pharmacies to comment on and appeal pricing decisions. The Eighth Circuit on Jan. 11 found this law to be unenforceable as preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because it interferes with the uniform administration of ERISA plans nationwide.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the PBM industry association that challenged the law in court, called the decision a “shot across the bow” for other states that might be considering adopting similar laws.

The decision “sends an important signal that states can’t impose a patchwork of costly mandates on employers and unions that offer pharmacy benefits,” Mark Merritt, president and chief executive officer of PCMA, said in a Jan. 11 statement.

The National Community Pharmacists Association—which in 2016 filed a brief urging the Eighth Circuit to uphold the Iowa law—said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” with the ruling. NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey vowed to continue supporting policies like Iowa’s, which he praised as an attempt to “bring transparency to a PBM industry that has exploited secrecy to reap record profits at the expense of hardworking Americans.

In striking the law, the Eighth Circuit said that forcing PBMs to report data to state officials about their role in administering ERISA plan benefits runs counter to Congress’ goal of national uniformity in the administration of employee benefit plans. The Eighth Circuit relied on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision using ERISA to partly invalidate a Vermont program that collected health claims data.

Continue Reading  >>

“Gross” Invoice Cost for Top Selling Generic and Brand Prescription Drugs – Volume 150

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.


Step #2:  In addition, request an electronic copy of all your prescription transactions (claims) for the billing cycle which coincides with the date of your price list.

Step #3:  Compare approximately 10 to 20 prescription claims against the price list to confirm contract agreement.  It’s impractical to verify all claims, but 10 is a sample size large enough to extract some good assumptions.

Step #4:  Now take it one step further. Check what your organization has paid, for prescription drugs, against our acquisition costs then determine if a problem exists. When there is a 5% or more price differential (paid versus actual cost) we consider this a problem.

Multiple price differential discoveries means that your organization or client is likely overpaying. REPEAT these steps once per month.

— Tip —

Always include a semi-annual market check in your PBM contract language. Market checks provide each payer the ability, during the contract, to determine if better pricing is available in the marketplace compared to what the client is currently receiving.

When better pricing is discovered the contract language should stipulate the client be indemnified. Do not allow the PBM to limit the market check language to a similar size client, benefit design and/or drug utilization. In this case, the market check language is effectually meaningless.

The Future of Employer-Sponsored Coverage

It is early days. No one knows what will happen legislatively in 2017. But large employers are as anxious as all health care stakeholders about what the new brand of change may bring. There is high uncertainty given the volatility of the political and policy process that is unfolding and given the unpredictability of the Trump administration.

Click to Learn More
What are employers worried about? Here are a few issues to watch:


Tax-deductibility of employer-sponsored health insurance: This has to be the No. 1 and immediate issue. Currently, this is worth $260 billion per annum in tax benefits. If it were to be chipped away at, either in the form of the current law’s planned reinstatement of the Cadillac tax or some Republican proposals to scale back deductibility, this will have a significant negative effect on employers.

Pharmaceutical costs: Rising drug costs are a huge issue for employers and indeed for almost every health care stakeholder I work with. In most commercial health insurance plans (including self-insured plans), per-member, per-month drug costs now exceed inpatient hospital costs. The shift to specialty pharmaceuticals and price gouging, even on generics, is taking its toll. At a recent PBGH or Pacific Business Group on Health board retreat, the top issue raised by all participants was specialty pharmacy, not only because of the salience of the cost (explaining perhaps a full quarter of the increase in trend) but because the private sector options to control pharmaceutical costs are minimal. Trump recognized the drug cost issue in his campaign, but after he won the election, his website no longer speaks of controlling prices of drugs. Instead, there are visionary statements about innovation. Pharma may be getting a pass, as evidenced by the easy passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. But for employers, this issue is not going away. 

As Lansky of PBGH told me: “Employers aren’t just mad about price gouging but have looked very hard at the pharmaceutical supply chain in order to restructure it — even to the point of talking directly to manufacturers. They want to challenge the very nature of the business: formulary placement, the split between medical benefit and the drug benefit, rebates to pharmacy benefit managers, coupons that insulate consumers from cost sharing, intellectual property and patent rules, etc. They know that beating up on the pharmacy benefit managers (like beating up on the health plans) is not productive; the system needs re-engineering, and no one is motivated to do it except the employers who are paying.”

The inevitable cost shift: It may be off in the distance, but if coverage is eroded for the 20 million or so who benefited from the ACA and if the federal money for Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies is geared back, providers will seek to replace that revenue from employers. Good luck with that, to all concerned.

Employers stepping up to manage their health costs directly: Many sophisticated employers will double down on their management efforts with narrow networks or using ACO arrangements and direct contracting. Others, like Apple, will expand their on-site clinic operations and corporate wellness initiatives (although the track record on wellness saving money is spotty at best).

Deja vu: The new administration has already signaled greater emphasis on consumerism, transparency, health savings accounts, shopping tools, personal responsibility and “skin in the game.” Most sophisticated employers would say, “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.” They believe much of this stuff, and they have done it already, so what do they do for an encore?

Partners in value: Sophisticated employers believe that health care does indeed need to migrate from volume to value (but they also expect to pay less if volumes subside). They recognize that opportunities for cost reduction exist within the delivery system, and they do not have the clout as individual employers in any geographic market to demand meaningful change in payment and delivery reform. That is why groups like PBGH have been active partners with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in promoting value-based reimbursement and innovation. These sophisticated employers want to know if they still have a partner in value in the federal government. For example, PBGH has for six years promulgated the ambulatory intensive care unit model, including a $20 million Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation project to extend the model to Medicare, and is now doing the same with Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) using a “health homes” approach. As Lansky noted, “It’s an example where a very small idea can be aligned with national, over-65, low-income and other public programs to drive actual care transformation.”

Looking for the exit: Finally, depending on what comes out of the sausage-making machine in Washington, employers (especially the compliance police) will take a hard look at the rules of the road and reconsider their ongoing commitment to health benefits. Nothing makes corporate chief financial officers more misty-eyed than thinking they could really write a check for $10,000 a year and kiss this issue goodbye forever in a defined contribution. As PBGH’s Lansky stressed, “Either the system gets serious about re-engineering, or the exit is the only sensible path.”

Continue Reading >>

“Don’t Miss” webinar Tuesday January 10 at 2PM ET

How many businesses do you know want to cut their revenues in half? That’s why traditional pharmacy benefit managers don’t offer a fiduciary standard and instead opt for hidden cash flow opportunities such as rebate masking. Want to learn more?


Here is what some participants have said about the webinar.

“Thank you Tyrone. Nice job, good information.” David Stoots, AVP

“Thank you! Awesome presentation.” Mallory Nelson, PharmD

“Thank you Tyrone for this informative meeting.” David Wachtel, VP


A snapshot of what you will learn during this 30 minute webinar:

  • Hidden cash flows in the PBM Industry such as formulary steering, rebate masking and differential pricing 
  • How to calculate cost of pharmacy benefit manager services or CPBMS
  • Specialty pharmacy cost-containment strategies
  • The financial impact of actual acquisition cost (AAC) vs. effective acquisition cost (EAC)
  • Why mail-order and preferred pharmacy networks may not be the great deal you were sold
Sincerely,
Tyrone D. Squires, MBA  
TransparentRx  
2850 W Horizon Ridge Pkwy., Suite 200  
Henderson, NV 89052  
866-499-1940 Ext. 201


P.S.  Yes, it’s recorded.  I know you’re busy … so register now and we’ll send you the link to the session recording as soon as it’s ready.