Friendly reminder: any opinions I express in this blog are mine and are not those of PDS or any other entity that I am now or have been affiliated with at any time or in any way.
We have made it through the end of the Mayan Calendar! Your customers probably came into your store over the past months, unsure of what the end of the year would hold for them. Whether it be the end of the world, the "financial cliff" descisions, or even potential pharmaceutical provisions of the Affordable Health Care Plan.
As for the 2013 New Year, we can definitely expect some interesting news and changes ahead.
This leads to the basic issues of human behavior as driven by uncertainty and the current overdose of media coverage. I also find it interesting that Express Scripts has deemed it necessary to run television ads assuring MEDCO participants that, not only will nothing change, but also that Walgreens is back in the network for Express Scripts.
This reminds me of the shifting consumer-driven paradigm that happened when the FTC started allowing pharma companies to advertise on television. It begs the question…will customers start to push benefit plan administrators to make changes in their PBMs? Or at least plan designs if they better understand the relationship between their drug benefit, their employers and the PBMs?
This entrance of PBMs into national advertising also appears to be pressuring chains other than Walgreens to increase their media marketing campaigns. The Wal-Mart $4 generic co-pay advertising campaign triggered this a couple of years ago. But for most consumers there still is a disconnect as to the role the PBM plays (or who they are). If so, this leaves an opening for independent pharmacies to step in the formula.
Other predictions I would contemplate for 2013 include, continued consolidation of PBMs and Specialty Pharmacy driving down pricing for self-administered injectibles and compounded drugs. Medicare savings will have to be garnered from more intensive audits of all products and services, because it is unlikely that savings will be garnered through cutting benefits. In addition, with generic medications topping out at over 80% of all drugs dispensed there will be increased scrutiny of supply chains for generics. Hopefully this will help tighten imported pharmaceuticals and some of the shenanigans that have been going on regarding outsourcing.
As with other times of uncertainty 2013 will also be a time for the agile and insightful entrepreneurs to find new and profitable opportunities. I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year!
This article was written by James R. Thompson, Consultant, PBM and RX Strategies