Formulary guidance and transparency from P&T to point of care

Radar On Market Access: 2018 Saw Slowing M&A Activity; Expect More of the Same in ’19

Posted by Angela Maas on Jan 29, 2019

The specialty pharmacy and infusion therapy spaces have certainly seen their share of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity over the years. Some challenges within those industries may have helped slow down 2018 activity a bit, observes Reg Blackburn, managing director at The Braff Group. And for 2019, we may see more of the same, AIS Health reported.

As far as specialty pharmacy trends in 2018, Blackburn points out that "the largest specialty pharmacies continue to get even larger. Payer- and chain-owned dominate. Most new entity growth is coming from large academic hospitals starting their own specialty pharmacies."
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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics

Radar On Market Access: Vermont Pushes Ahead on Canadian Drug Importation

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Jan 17, 2019

A new report concludes that if Vermont undertakes wholesale importation of prescription drugs from Canada, such a program could achieve cost savings for the state's commercial payers. But achieving benefits requires an emphasis on program mechanics, and Vermont's own effort is far from a done deal — with the state's largest health insurer pointing out that administrative costs and hurdles, which may be significant, are not quantified in this feasibility study, AIS Health reported.

The state's 14-page report on the preliminary design of the "Canadian Rx Drug Import Supply Program," written with the National Academy for State Health Policy’s (NASHP) technical assistance, estimates savings of $1 million to $5 million annually, based on just 17 high-spend drugs identified for two of the state’s three major carriers.
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Topics: Specialty, Data & Analytics, Payer

Radar On Market Access: New Hep C Approach Might Not Save Money, PBM Execs Warn

Posted by Jane Anderson on Jan 10, 2019

A small study suggests it might be possible to shorten the length of expensive drug treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), potentially cutting treatment time in half for 50% of patients. But managed care pharmacy clinicians say the results are far from ready to implement widely, and it’s possible the new approach might not even save money, AIS Health reported.

The study, conducted at Loyola University Chicago and three medical centers in Israel, involved only 22 patients. It used a technique called modeling-based response-guided therapy, which estimated how long it would take to completely eliminate the hepatitis C virus.
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Topics: Specialty, Product Release, Data & Analytics, Payer

Radar On Market Access: New PBM Models Respond to Public Pressure, Market Demand

Posted by Leslie Small on Dec 20, 2018

Express Scripts Holding Co. and CVS Health Corp. have in recent months unveiled new programs that appear designed to transition away from the PBM status quo, AIS Health reported.

One factor driving both new programs could be a proposed rule that's still under review by the Office of Management and Budget, which might remove prescription drug rebates' safe-harbor protections from the federal antikickback statute. But one industry expert says it looks less likely that may actually transpire.

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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on FDA’s Approval of New Opioid Formulation

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Dec 13, 2018

When a highly potent new opioid formulation was approved by his agency on Nov. 2, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., downplayed safety concerns about AcelRx's Dsuvia. He stressed the importance of the painkiller for military use and the "very tight restrictions being placed on the distribution and use of this product," AIS Health reported.

In general, PBM and health plan experts say such restrictions likely will hold and keep the drug within its proper niche, and the regulatory green light for Dsuvia shouldn't interfere with broad ongoing efforts to better manage opioid use in the U.S.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on Proposed Part D Change

Posted by Leslie Small on Nov 29, 2018

If the Trump administration gets its way, Medicare Part D plan sponsors may at some point be on the hook for a greater share of costs once beneficiaries reach the catastrophic phase of coverage for prescription drugs. While America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is opposed to the idea, experts tell AIS Health that the time may be ripe for such a change.

Beneficiaries enter the catastrophic coverage phase when, as of 2018, their "true out-of-pocket costs" exceed $5,000. Once in that phase, beneficiaries pay no more than 5% of the total cost for their drugs, while the federal government pays 80% and the Part D plan pays 15%.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Trends That Matter for Drug Prices

Posted by Angela Maas on Nov 22, 2018

Pharmaceuticals are expected to undergo a 4.92% price increase from 2018 to 2019, according to the July-August 2018 Drug Price Forecast from Vizient. That's actually a slowing from the 7.61% increase for 2018, AIS Health reported.

The company conducted its analysis using price and volume data from hospital and non-acute facilities participating in its Vizient Pharmacy Program. Among Vizient members, therapeutic classes with the highest spend include many with specialty drugs.

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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics

Radar On Market Access: Prime PBM's Studies Show Promise for Managing Opioids

Posted by Judy Packer Tursman on Nov 20, 2018

Researchers from Prime Therapeutics LLC recently presented studies on two approaches to managing the use of opioid medications, AIS Health reported.

In the first opioid study, Florida Blue, Prime and Walgreens piloted a program where pharmacists gave a one-page opioid safety guide to Florida Blue members whose claim histories showed high opioid and controlled substance use when they picked up opioid prescriptions from a Walgreens pharmacy. The guide explained safe use, safe storage, safe disposal and overdose prevention for opioids, and included information on naloxone, a treatment used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose.

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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on MA Plans’ Use of Step Therapy in Part B

Posted by Angela Maas on Nov 15, 2018

While many stakeholders have praised CMS's move to allow Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to apply step therapy to drugs covered under Part B, others have cautioned that it could result in delays or restrictions in patients accessing much-needed medications, AIS Health reported.

On Aug. 7, CMS issued new guidance allowing MA plans to use step therapy for Part B drugs as of Jan. 1, 2019. The letter also states that those MA plans that also offer prescription drug coverage may use step therapy to have a beneficiary use a drug under Part D before stepping to one under Part B.

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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer

Perspectives on CVS Bid to Lower Drug Launch Prices

Posted by Leslie Small on Nov 1, 2018

In an effort to pressure drug manufacturers to temper their launch prices for new drugs, CVS Health Corp. is rolling out a program in which drugs that have a price exceeding a certain cost-effectiveness threshold will be excluded from coverage, AIS Health reported.

CVS will let clients refuse to cover drugs that have a price tag of more than $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), provided they are not designated as "breakthrough" therapies by the FDA.

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Topics: Specialty, Industry Trends, Data & Analytics, Provider, Payer