PHARMACY

New study: Growing share of drug prices go to rebates, supply chain

BY David Salazar
WASHINGTON — A new study from the Berkeley Research Group is taking a look at the share of prescription drug spending that’s retained by biopharmaceutical companies, generics makers, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and other supply chain stakeholders. 
 
"The BRG study is the first to show what happens when the list price of a medicine meets the forces of private market negotiation, costs associated with a complex supply chain and mandated government discounts in Medicaid, the VA and the 340B program,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which commissioned the study.
 
The report found that 47% of total gross spending on medicines is retained by brand pharmaceutical companies, or about $219 billion. Generics companies retain 23%, or about $107.8 billion. It also found that retrospective rebates, discounts and fees have increased from $67 billion in 2013 to $106 billion in 2015. 
 
"The study begs an important question: Are we doing enough to ensure the growing amount of rebates and discounts flow to the patient?" Ubl said, noting that a patient's cost-sharing for medicines, including payments for care received prior to meeting a deductible or from a co-insurance, is typically based on the list price of a medicine, not the net prices after rebates and discounts are factored in.
 
"Our health care system needs to evolve to pay for medicines based on their value to patients, the health care system and society," Ubl said.
 
To view the full study, click here.
 

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PHARMACY

iMedicare reports saving patients $363 million in 2016

BY David Salazar
NEW YORK — Medicare plan comparison platform iMedicare on Wednesday announced that it had saved Medicare beneficiaries $363 million. The number comes from 315,398 patients at more than 5,000 pharmacies, saving an average of $1,150 in prescription costs. This surpasses the 250,000 patients who saved a total  od $287.5 million in 2015 from using iMedicare. 
 
iMedicare, which Lewis Drug and Discount Drug Mart have brought to their pharmacies this year, allows pharmacies to help patients identify the greatest savings opportunities based on their current medications and Medicare plan options. 
 
“In 2016, we crossed a new frontier at iMedicare, as we began using machine learning to help our customers identify opportunities proactively,” iMedicare CEO Flaviu Simihaian said. “We are already off to a great start in 2017, using data-driven insights to triple our customers’ return on investment.”
 

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FDA approves Teva’s Vantrela ER

BY David Salazar
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Teva’s Vantrela ER (hydrocodone bitartrate, extended-release) tablets, the company announced Wednesday. The drug, indicated for pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and patients for whom alternative therapy is inadequate, is formulated with Teva’s proprietary abuse-deterrent technology. 
 
“Teva understands the risk of prescription drug abuse is a challenge healthcare professionals face when treating millions of Americans affected by chronic pain,” Teva president and CEO of global specialty medicines Dr. Rob Koremans said. “Abuse-deterrent treatments provide options for prescribers that may help deter or mitigate abuse while still preserving access to pain medications for the patients that need them most.”
 
Vantrela ER’s abuse-deterrent properties are expected to reduce, but not totally prevent oral, intravenous and intranasal abuse of the drug when tablets are manipulated. As an opioid, Vantrela ER comes with a boxed warning that includes addiction, abuse and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death, as well as serious, life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression. 
 
“While no technology can completely eliminate abuse, Teva’s proprietary abuse deterrence technology is an important step forward,” Teva president of global R&D and chief scientific officer Dr. Michael Hayden said. “We are committed to furthering responsible pain management.”
 

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