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A cool trillion in generic savings: Are the feds taking full advantage?

BY Jim Frederick

A cool trillion dollars. That’s what the generic industry said U.S. patients and public and private health plan payers have saved over the last decade by switching from branded to generic prescription drugs at pharmacy counters.

Looked at another way, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association trumpeted in a study released last Thursday that me-too medicines saved a half-billion dollars a day between 2002 and 2011.

It’s an impressive number, but the savings would have been even greater for taxpayers and empty federal and state coffers if the dysfunctional pharmacy reimbursement systems for Medicare and Medicaid truly focused on saving money. Ditto for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that launched health reform but didn’t create enough incentives for pharmacists to substitute lower-cost generics where available.

Policy-makers are conflicted. Such federal health programs as Medicare and Medicaid — along with overburdened employers and other private health plan sponsors — are grappling with an inexorable and unsustainable rise in costs for health services, including pharmaceuticals. But proposals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Congress and other regulatory and legislative bodies for overhauling the payment system for those federal and state health programs fail to take full advantage of the cost-saving potential of generics and in some cases come near to discouraging pharmacists from making the effort to shift patients to cost-effective alternatives.

Pressure to do so will only grow as the nation’s health budget continues to spiral out of control, payers demand solutions, patients squawk about rising co-pays and more and more branded drugs fall off the patent cliff. Those and other market forces are likely to sustain the long-running generic tide for years to come.

What do you think? Is CMS still missing the mark with its average manufacturer price-based formula for prescription reimbursements? Or is it dangerous to discourage branded manufacturers from continuing to develop a pipeline of new, expensive-to-produce medicines, either via traditional research and development methods or bioengineering?

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HDMA unveils fall seminar lineup

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — The Healthcare Distribution Management Association announced its upcoming education seminars to be held this fall.

This upcoming season’s seminars include:

  • Product Life Cycle Management seminar: Held at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, N.C., from Sept. 10 to 11, this seminar underscores that communication is crucial among trading partners to understanding how products are managed across the supply chain. Participants can engage in a practical discussion of key life cycle considerations, including how to leverage data to streamline product flow, manage NDC changes, loss of exclusivity and other market disruptions. They also can discuss the inventory forecasting required for generic launches and the related demand planning and logistics requirements. Attendees can learn from peers as they participate in roundtable discussions on a variety of industry topics to explore key issues, obstacles and potential solutions. Click here for more information;

  • Contracts and Chargebacks seminar — perspectives on process improvement: Held at Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Del., from Oct. 24 and 25, this seminar provides an interactive forum for those responsible for administering contracts and adjudicating chargebacks in the pharmaceutical industry — including manufacturers, distributors, GPOs and end customers. Click here for more information; and

  • Track-and-Trace Technology seminar: Held at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va., from Nov. 12 to 14, this program continues efforts to provide all segments of the healthcare supply chain an opportunity to come together to explore and discuss practical actions the industry is taking as they proceed along the path toward implementation. Click here for more information.

 


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Viviscal gets shoutout on ‘The View’

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Hair loss supplement Viviscal made its name known to watchers of ABC daytime talk show "The View."

During a segment that discussed female hair loss, the hosts of the show spoke with dermatologist Dr. Doris Day. The topic was especially timely as August marks National Hair Loss Awareness Month. "Up to 30 million women suffer from hair loss," Day said. "Up to 50% of women by the age of 50 will complain of hair thinning."

Day also spotlighted her top thinning hair treatments, including Viviscal Extra Strength.

Click here to view the video.

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