As 2014 comes to an end, concerns about wholesale drug prices and insurance reimbursements remain top of mind for independent pharmacy owners, and with good reason.
This week’s blog links you to articles on drug prices that are essential reading for any independent pharmacy owner who wants to stay in the know.
#1 – The way it was supposed to be?
In 2011, Elisabeth Fischer wrote The patent cliff: rise of the generics for pharmaceutical-technology.com.
Fischer painted a vision of the pharmaceutical world resulting from the end of patent protection, in the years 2011-2016, for the world’s bestselling drugs, then earning about $255bn in global annual sales.
As Fischer reported, “Once the blockbusters lose their patent protection, lower-price generics are expected to decimate as much as 90% of the sales of innovator companies.” She went on to say, “The expected flood of generic drugs, which typically cost 20%-80% less than branded medications, will help to save patients a small fortune, along with businesses and taxpayers who help pay for prescription drugs through corporate and government prescription plans.”
As we now know, numerous factors have changed the marketplace. That’s why this article is an excellent resource for seeing what was expected to happen versus what actually came to pass.
#2 – Wall Street Journal on what to watch for in 2015
This week’s Wall Street Journal Pharmalot blog article is called Drug Prices, Generics, and M&A: What to Watch in 2015.
Pharmalot helps us appreciate what’s going on with:
- FDA generic approval delays
- Volume of mergers and acquisitions in biopharma in 2014 (double that of 2013)
- Cost of new medicines
- “Pay to delay” deals in which generic manufacturers pay brand drug makers to not sue them in exchange for them delaying when they will manufacture the generic equivalent.
The article doesn’t paint a rosy picture of 2015, but it does explain the factors at work.
#3 – War behind the pharmacy counter
Bankrate.com calls the upheaval in drug costs, “War behind the pharmacy counter.” As Jay MacDonald points out, it’s a war on multiple fronts:
- Employers and insurers are pushing for competition between brand name drugs and generics in the same therapeutic category that may not be equivalent
- PBMs are tightening formularies and encouraging chain pharmacies to drop certain drugs
- Biologics raise the stakes while limiting competition
- The new consolidation: insurers acquiring health systems
#4 – Consumers taking action against mail order requirements
A California consumers group filed suit against Aetna on December 19th for requiring patients with HIV/AIDS to purchase their prescriptions through Aetna’s mail order specialty pharmacy.
This was the second time in 2014 that such a suit has been filed.
According to the article in ajmc.com, the plaintiff says the requirement is discriminatory because it will deprive patients of “essential counseling from an expert pharmacist at a community pharmacy who knows their medical history and who, working directly with patients in face-to-face interactions, is best positioned to detect potentially life-threatening adverse drug interactions and dangerous side effects.”
Isn’t it interesting and encouraging to see consumer groups citing the vital role that community pharmacies play as a benefit that should not be taken away by insurers?
I think these four articles provide a solid knowledge base for some of the most important issues affecting independent pharmacies as we move into 2015. After you have read the articles, I would be interested in any comments you would care to leave below. Please share your thoughts.
Happy New Year
I couldn’t leave you without wishing you a very Happy New Year! As the articles cited above show, there will be many uncertainties to face in 2015. Be assured that you will always be able to count on TRxADE to provide opportunities for you to compare drug prices from multiple suppliers, save money on wholesale drug purchases, and sell your overstock (where permitted by law).
Here’s to a healthy and profitable 2015 for us all!