Pharmaceuticals and PBMs

In this short recording, Healthcare attorneys Wakaba Tessier and Erica Ash discuss a recent Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement involving a specialty pharmacy and its private equity owner. This case is significant because – not only did the DOJ name the compounding pharmacy and its two executives – but it also named the private equity

On June 1, 2019, the United States Pharmacopeia (“USP”) published the final revisions to its pharmaceutical sterile compounding standards (“chapter <797>”).  Chapter <797> sets forth standards for the preparation of compounded sterile medications to help ensure products are safe and effective and reduce risks such as contamination or incorrect dosing. The most recent revisions implement new standards and revise existing ones based on recent scientific and technological developments. The chapter <797> revisions also incorporate stakeholder input raised during the July 2018 to November 2018 public comment period, much of which concerned allergens, beyond-use dating, and the general ambiguity throughout the chapter.

The USP’s most recent revisions to chapter <797> are extensive and those who prepare compounded sterile products (“CSPs”) are advised to familiarize themselves with the new standards. Significant changes include:
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On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, our team of legal professionals and industry experts hosted a Compliance Considerations for Pharmacy Sale or Acquisition Webinar that took a look at the regulatory pitfalls and problems that can arise in a pharmacy transaction.

The free on-demand recording will provide real-life examples of what to do – and not

If you happen to miss our NHIA Talk Infusion Webinar on Compliance and Risk Considerations for Compounding Pharmacies, please click on the link to enjoy a free on-demand recording.

Our program guides you through the current landscape and common compliance concerns in compounding. We will help you understand the focus of FDA and state

The Trump Administration’s latest effort to limit the power of pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) is marred by economic uncertainty and looming legal scrutiny.  The Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) within the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently released a proposed rule (“proposed rule”) removing safe harbor protection under the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) for prescription drug rebates (“drug rebates) paid by a manufacturer to Medicare Part D plan sponsors and Medicaid managed care organizations (“MCOs”) or their PBMs.  The rule also creates new safe harbor protections for point-of-sale reductions in price and certain PBM services fees.[1]   The long-awaited proposed rule follows months of anticipation after the Trump Administration released its May 2018 Blueprint to reduce prescription drug costs.[2]

PBMs in Brief

PBMs, on behalf of health plans, employers, and other entities, negotiate and contract with drug manufacturers to obtain rebates on prescription drugs dispensed to health plan members.  By aggregating their collective scale and purchasing power of all health plan or employer group clients, PBMs can negotiate better deals with the manufacturer than any one plan or group operating independently.  Rebates are typically negotiated on brand-name drugs that compete with therapeutically-similar brands and generics. These retroactive rebates (after point-of-sale) are based on a multitude of factors, including a drug’s placement in a plan formulary designed by the PBM, and the PBM’s power to increase a manufacturer’s market share for specific drugs by inclusion on a formulary.  A manufacturer may provide a greater rebate if its product is included in a “preferred” position on the PBM formulary.
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On September 10, 2018, the federal Food & Drug Administration (”FDA”) released its revised draft standard Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between states and the FDA addressing the interstate distribution of compounded drug products.  See 83 Fed. Reg. 175, 45631 et seq. (Sept. 10, 2018). The draft is the latest in the FDA’s decades-long effort to clarify state and federal roles in investigating and responding to complaints related to compounded drug products shipped between states.
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The National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) recently issued its comments in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) request for information related to HHS’s Drug Pricing Blueprint.[1]  The Blueprint is part of the Trump Administration’s initiative to lower prescription drug prices.  Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma has said that “[l]owering drug prices is a top priority for the President and CMS, and the agency is committed to finding innovative ways to increase competition and lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers.”[2] 
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The Inspector General took an unprecedented step Tuesday, rescinding a favorable Advisory Opinion first issued in 2006 that had provided assurances to the patient assistance charity, Caring Voice Coalition, that its drug subsidy program would not expose the organization to liability under the Anti-Kickback Statute.
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Recent press reports are speculating that CVS Health Corporation is seeking to acquire the health insurer Aetna.  The rumored transaction would create a new type of health care company that doesn’t currently exist:  one that combines a commercial health insurer with a retail pharmacy chain and a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM).  According to most reports, CVS would pay $66 – $70 billion to acquire Aetna (with Aetna stockholders receiving cash and CVS stock).  It’s said that the parties are trying to enter into a definitive agreement by year-end.    
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