Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tuesday Tip of the Week: PBM’s are the Only Check on Drug Manufacturers’ Ability to Increase Drug Costs

PBMs are a critical component of the health care supply chain. The veiled reason groups want PBMs removed from the picture is because they want a bigger slice of the pie. PBM’s are the only check on drug manufacturers’ ability to increase the cost of drugs by negotiating the price to reasonable rates and avoiding cost hikes, as there is currently no regulation over Big Pharma and the prices they set. How do PBMs help plan sponsors save money?

1) Negotiate discounts
2) Increase use of generics
3) Make distribution more efficient
4) Negotiate rebates
5) Formulary management
6) Plan design

While PBMs are a critical component of the health care supply chain, they are also adding too much costs to the supply chain. Both can be true, we are critical components and charge too much. PBMs do a great job at negotiating savings but get greedy when the time comes to return those savings back to plan sponsors. Education is the key to getting to lowest net cost in pharmacy benefit plans. 

Only the most sophisticated purchasers of PBM services will have the knowledge and confidence to bind radical transparency into PBM contract language and benefit design. Hence, your competitive advantage includes executing good analysis of the correct information then deciding what all of this suggests for your organization. Those who seize the chance and develop a good plan, that may reasonably be accomplished, have a higher probability of getting to lowest net cost.

CASE STUDY

After going through a market check in 2019, a midsize client was looking for a better deal than their incumbent PBM. The client hired a major consultant to evaluate offers from leading PBMs to determine who would provide the best deal. Despite ranking middle of the pack on the consultant’s scorecard, TransparentRx won the business. We were able to demonstrate how transparency and the PBM’s management fee impacts cost. 

When the carrier, PBM and ASO all share the same parent company, it may combine aspects of the two funding options to subsidize pricing by cost-shifting. Self-insured employers may have forces working against them. Here are the results after the first twelve months:

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