PHARMACY

McKesson ideaShare 2018 highlights new Health Mart Atlas PSAO

BY Sandra Levy

Health Mart Atlas is only three months old, and already its PSAO partnership with American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., or APCI, is helping independent pharmacies deal with the changes and complexities in managed care. So said, Health Mart Atlas’ vice president and general manager Eyad Farah, speaking at a roundtable at McKesson’s annual ideaShare 2018 in Las Vegas.

Launched in April, Health Mart Atlas manages core PSAO services, including third-party PBM and payer contracting, credentialing, central pay, and MAC pricing appeals for community pharmacy, including all current AccessHealth and APNS members.

Emphasizing that the pharmaceutical supply chain is rife with announcements of different transactions almost weekly, Farah said “Our industry is going through a transformation. I’d like our customers to understand what we are doing today, how McKesson and Health Mart Atlas are helping them navigate through all of this change. Customers and pharmacies need a managed care and a PSAO partner today more than ever. It’s getting more challenging and complex.”

“What was important to APCI, was not only to be part of a larger network but also to be partnered with a team of experts, the Atlas team in a complicated industry but also have APCI maintaining a high level of customer service for our members,” said APCI’s chief operations and finance officer Susan Maze.

When queried how customers are reacting to the new venture, Farah jokingly quipped, “They said, ‘Why did it take you so long?’ When you think about the benefits there’s clear synergy in creating the joint venture. There’s a lot of present and future value the members are seeing.”

Maze agreed that members have reacted positively. “They want to be tied with a larger network and have more resources and direction for the future,” she said.

In order for independent pharmacies to be successful now and in the future, contracting expertise is vital, Farah said.

“We have the right scale that positions us for success with the PBMs and payers. We have a comprehensive process and we bring that expertise to the table when we are talking to PBMs and reviewing contracts. We’re not just signing a contract, we are looking at what contract makes sense. Not every contract is the right contract for our pharmacies.”

Pointing out that there was clear alignment between the two partners on their focus on performance, Farah said, “We’ve clearly continued to make progress as it relates to educating the marketplace, setting goals, and on all of the quality based initiatives that is driving us (pharmacy) in a different direction. We are both helping shape that and educate the marketplace and helping improve and influence the network performance.”

Emphasizing that APCI is very focused on outcomes and patient quality, Maze said, “We are leveraging and continue to leverage the Health Mart brand. This is another opportunity to further leverage that brand with our customers. Independents didn’t really have that brand identity all the way from the payer level to the patient level and with Health Mart we do.”

In an effort to drive patient outcomes, McKesson and Health Mart have held a series of town halls in the past few years. That effort has resulted in getting the right solutions in place and having the right conversations with patients and driving better outcomes, Farah said.

“Year over year, we see growth in the numbers and better adherence. In one of the metrics we constantly look at is what percentage of the network has one of their adherence metrics in the top 20 and for the last couple of years we have more than 40% of our network with one metric in the top 20,” said Farah, adding, “We look at some of the plans and payers that have DIRs tied to performance; year over year we are constantly driving the lowest DIR and the best reimbursement for the network because it’s tied to  the performance of the overall network.”

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PHARMACY

Teva to move U.S. home base to Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.

BY Sandra Levy

Israeli-based Teva will be moving its U.S. home base to Parsippany-Troy Hills from North Wales, Pa. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the move, which will transfer and create a total of 843 jobs in the state, while 232 workers at the Parsippany-Troy Hills location — which will expand to nearly 350,000 square feet — will keep their positions.

Teva will become neighbors with several major pharma players that are based in New Jersey, including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.

The decision follows approval of a 10-year, $40 million tax incentive plan that was designed to lure Teva to the Garden State. The plan required Teva to keep 1,000 New Jersey jobs to reap the credits.

The move will help Teva, which is in the middle of a $3 billion cost-cutting effort mapped out by new CEO Kåre Schultz, consolidate some of its operations in a central location, said the FiercePharma report.

“Reducing the number of sites supports our drive to continue to improve productivity and efficiencies,” Teva EVP and head of North American commercial Brendan O’Grady said in a statement. “We’re pleased to expand our presence in New Jersey, having closer proximity to a vibrant business hub and a dynamic life sciences environment—all while increasing jobs and preserving many existing roles.”

O’Grady said the company would “retain a significant presence” in Pennsylvania.

In January, 65 employees across three buildings in Horsham and North Wales, Pennsylvania, 96 across sites in Fraser and Great Valley, and 47 more in West Chester lost their jobs.

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Two senators urge GSK to end Shingrix shingles vaccine shortage

BY Sandra Levy

Although GlaxoSmithKline said it has developed a “fair and equitable” process to ship Shingrix, its new shingles vaccine, two U.S. senators are urging the drugmaker do more to increase inventory levels in the wake of a shortage, according to a FiercePharma report.

As of May, more than 1.5 million people have received the vaccine.

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith wrote to GSK CEO Emma Walmsley asking that she look at “what more GSK can do to end the shortage as quickly as possible.” The senators said it appears that GSK didn’t develop “contingency plans” to ensure enough supply for the important vaccine launch. The senators voiced concern that patients may not be able to complete their recommended schedule of two doses in six months.

In an update with CBS in Minnesota, Sen. Klobuchar said GSK plans to meet with her.

After GSK received approval for Shingrix last fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advisers recommended Shingrix above Merck’s older Zostavax, which may be one of the reasons the vaccine is in short supply, said the FiercePharma report.

GSK has set up order limits and delays to manage doses, and has delayed such “broad consumer education activities” as TV ads until it can restore inventory levels.

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