Pharmacy Update: July 31

CVS Caremark is growing its diabetes care program with the goal of greater prevention, the company said July 30. The PBM first launched Transform Diabetes Care (TDC) in December 2016 and since then has seen notable results, with more than half of members enrolled in the program went from uncontrolled to controlled diabetes status. In addition members’ HbA1c levels improved by an average of 1.2 percentage points in the program.

Drug makers will pay a significantly larger share of costs in Medicare Part D under the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s new pricing plan. Companies that sell expensive drugs would bear the brunt of the shift, while makers of mid-range drugs like insulin could benefit.

The plan includes more than 30 separate provisions designed to control the rate of increase of prescription drug prices, provide relief for seniors with particularly high out of pocket costs, realign problematic incentives in both Medicare and Medicaid, and promote evidence-based policymaking going forward.

The Congressional Budget Office projects the bill as a whole could save taxpayers roughly $100 billion over the next decade, and could save beneficiaries $27 billion in out-of-pocket costs and $5 billion in premiums over the same period. For info go to:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is cracking down on pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacists it believes are breaking the law. A wholesaler’s two executives and two West Virginia pharmacists were charged in a conspiracy to flood rural Appalachia with millions of painkillers, according the the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

The Prescription Drug Pricing Act proposed by Congress requires greater transparency from pharmacy benefits managers and reduces overpayments and price spreading. One key feature of the bill is its increased oversight of PBMs, particularly regarding their controversial claw backs and price spreading practices. In price spreading, a PBM retains savings from drug price negotiations with a health plan, instead of passing the savings along to pharmacies. The proposal will require PBMs to publicly publish their yearly reports on any rebates, discounts, or price concessions that the PBM negotiates for payers.

According to the July 28 Charleston Gazette-Mail, recently released U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency data shows how drug stores in WV put hundreds of millions of powerful painkillers into the hands of West Virginians while overdose rates surged. The news agency also reported makers of cheaper generic drugs played a central role in the opioid crisis.

More than 200,000 people have died from overdoses of legal painkillers in the past two decades, according to The Washington Post. It also reports the drug industry inundated consumers with 76 billion opioids between 2006 and 2012, many more than experts had previously believed.

A database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic. Just six companies distributed 75 percent of the pills during a six year period.