As the new/old editor of Drug Benefit News, I implore you to bear with me. You see, the last time I covered pharmacy benefits for AIS was in 2005, and there seem to be more than a few new trends and buzzwords in the PBM industry.
Flash back to 2005, and everyone’s looking to get in the specialty pharmacy game. Now, it’s a core PBM offering. Transparency was in high demand from payers, but it was only starting to become a key element in contract bids. E-prescribing was in the early stages of adoption; now it’s a question of what “app” is on the prescriber’s smartphone. As we near 2012, buzz terms like “comparative effectiveness research,” “restricted pharmacy networks” and “personalized medicine” are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new trends, which I hope to explore in the first issue of the New Year.
One thing that remains a focus is generic utilization, but what appears to be complicating efforts to drive utilization is the rash of generous copay coupons offered by drug manufacturers that make purchasing brands even cheaper than generics. It’ll be interesting to see if (and how) PBMs step up their efforts to combat these coupons in 2012. PCMA certainly has some strong opinions about it, as evidenced in their Nov. 3 paper, available for download at http://pcmanet.org/2011-press-releases/brand-drug-copay-coupons-raise-health-costs-for-employers-unions-and-state-governments-by-32-billion.
Do you think we will see a rash of aggressive anti-couponing campaigns by PBMs in the coming months, or will the frenzy over coupons die down?