It's time to dig into Medicare Part D drug prices

It's time to dig into Medicare Part D drug prices

Over the last nine months we have sliced and diced generic drug pricing within Medicaid managed care to arrive at the conclusion that generic prices in Medicaid are subject to wild and seemingly arbitrary distortions. But the million dollar (or should we say $2 billion dollar) question is whether this problem is isolated to Medicaid, or if it is a broader issue plaguing Medicare Part D and Commercial plans as well? We now attempt to bring data into the fold to help answer this question. In this report, we embark on an in depth investigation into the pricing of the top 15 generic drugs in Medicare Part D - drugs that represented roughly a third of overall Part D generic spending in 2017. It turns out that the same arbitrary generic pricing behavior we have observed in Medicaid is alive and well within Part D.

Brand drug list prices remain largely in check so far in 2019

Brand drug list prices remain largely in check so far in 2019

With two months of solid data so far in 2019, according to CMS data, brand drug list prices appear to be largely under control when compared to previous years. While the data does not reflect true net costs, these are noteworthy trends regardless, and signs of the erosion of the much-maligned drug pricing “gross-to-net-bubble.” Check out this update for a breakdown of the price increases, as well as an update on the peculiar case of generic Prilosec spending.

What’s happening to generic drug prices? February 2019 NADAC Survey Update

What’s happening to generic drug prices? February 2019 NADAC Survey Update

It’s NADAC survey results week, which means it’s time for our next installment of “what happened to generic drug prices last month.” It looks like we saw some very unfortunate generic inflation this past month. As always, the details matter, and we’re here to provide them for you. Check out our latest drug pricing report for a lot of important updates, plus an updated and upgraded NADAC Packed Bubble Chart!

New dashboard launched to examine Medicaid markup galaxies

New dashboard launched to examine Medicaid markup galaxies

Looking to drill deeper into a state’s markup universe? Then our newest viz is for you. Medicaid Markup Galaxies separates each universe into three different groups (or celestially-speaking, “galaxies”). We call them the High-Cost, In-Range, and Low-Cost galaxies. The goal in doing so is to better quantify the nature of generic pricing distortions within state Medicaid programs. Additionally in today’s update, we put a bow on January’s brand drug price increases. See how 2019 is shaping up.

What’s happening to generic drug prices? January 2019 NADAC Survey Update

What’s happening to generic drug prices? January 2019 NADAC Survey Update

It’s NADAC survey results week, which means it’s time for our next installment of “what happened to generic drug prices last month.” On a positive note, it looks like there was a substantial amount of generic deflation in the aggregate. As always, the details matter, and we’re here to provide them for you. Check out our latest drug pricing report for a lot of important updates, plus an updated and upgraded NADAC Packed Bubble Chart!

New dashboard launched to track brand-drug price changes

New dashboard launched to track brand-drug price changes

The start of each new year brings a lot of “new-ness,” including a new round of price increases on brand-name drugs. This year has been no exception, and the media has been all over the subject. Unfortunately, we’ve found it difficult to figure out the “so what?” behind all of these price increases. On one hand, we are being told that the pharmaceutical manufacturers are back to “business as usual,” while on the other we are being told that the number of price increases are down meaningfully from last year. Which one is it? This felt like an opportunity to inject a healthy dose of facts into this discussion. So we set out to build a dashboard, 46brooklyn’s Brand Drug Price Change Box Score, that lets you visualize all brand-name manufacturer list price changes that are publicly-reported each week, drill down to the manufacturer and drug level, strength level, and compare and contrast different periods.

Slicing up the Pie: New dashboard launched to track drugmaker market share

Slicing up the Pie: New dashboard launched to track drugmaker market share

If you’re trying to discover reasons for why drug prices go up or down, one of the best things to look at is supply and demand. A new federal antitrust lawsuit alleges that several generic drugmakers were colluding in an effort to protect market share and raise prices. To get a better sense of what was happening in the market at the time the alleged collusion took place, it helps to track a drug’s market share over time. Using Medicaid utilization data and other public datasets, we have now launched a new dashboard to provide a crumb trail for those looking to determine the market distribution of drug manufacturers as prices fluctuate.

What’s happening to generic drug prices? December 2018 NADAC Survey Update

What’s happening to generic drug prices? December 2018 NADAC Survey Update

It’s NADAC survey results week, which means it’s time for our fifth installment of “what happened to generic drug prices last month.” On a positive note, it looks like there was a bit of net deflation. But overall it was a less than stellar month for generic deflation - it was the first month (since we started this monthly review) where we saw more generic drug price increases then decreases. As always, the details matter, and we’re here to provide them for you. Check out our latest drug pricing report for a lot of important updates, plus an updated NADAC Packed Bubble Chart!

Does Pennsylvania have a spread pricing problem?

Does Pennsylvania have a spread pricing problem?

As drug pricing scrutiny grows, PBM spread pricing of cheap, generic drugs is becoming a hot topic of conversation in states across the country. After the state of Ohio opened the books thanks to an audit from the state auditor, the uncovered $224 million PBM spread now has other states scrambling to see what they are being charged as well. One of those states is Pennsylvania, where their state auditor is trying hard to get the data he needs to see where the money is going in the third largest managed care program in the country. Since there are many folks wondering what’s going on in Pennsylvania, considering the current lack of hard data, we decided to dig into the publicly available data to see if Pennsylvania appears to have the makings of an “Ohio problem.”

What's happening to generic drug prices? November 2018 NADAC Survey update

What's happening to generic drug prices? November 2018 NADAC Survey update

CMS published their latest National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC) survey results today, and they've given us a lot to be thankful for! Applying the latest pricing changes to Medicaid's 2018 drug utilization mix results in $169 million of annualized savings on generic drugs. Moreover, we got both better "quantity" and "quality" out of this update.  In other words, more generic drugs went down in price (quantity) and of the ones that went down, a lot more went down by a meaningful amount (quality).

Inside AWP: The arbitrary pricing benchmark used to pay for generic drugs

Inside AWP: The arbitrary pricing benchmark used to pay for generic drugs

Average Wholesale Price (AWP) is a meaningless benchmark price for generic drugs, but despite its lack of substance, AWP-based payment models just won't go away.  Unfortunately the contractual reliance on a benchmark that has no relevance to actual price makes it very difficult for the payer to know if they are getting a good deal or not.  They are left to pay a fixed discount off of an unknown combination of meaningless, non-market-based, numbers. Seems like that would be tough sell, but this is drug pricing we are talking about, so of course, it's the norm. For the past couple months, we compiled data to create a visualization to help illustrate the problem that arises by anchoring generic drug costs to AWP. The finished product is embedded in this latest report "Inside AWP: The Arbitrary Pricing Benchmark Used to Pay for Prescription Drugs," along with our observations and analysis.

All 46brooklyn Visualizations Updated to include newly-released Q2 2018 State Utilization Data

All 46brooklyn Visualizations  Updated to include newly-released Q2 2018 State Utilization Data

On October 24, 2018, CMS released an update to all State Utilization Data posted on data.medicaid.gov. Most notably, the 2018 database was rolled forward to include Q2 2018 data. As such, we have released updates to all 46brooklyn dashboards posted on our visualizations page. In conjunction with this update, we have also published a new dashboard that allows the user to identify the top 20 drugs in each state’s managed care (MCO) program that have a markup (MCO paid amount less NADAC ingredient cost) of over $20 per prescription.

What’s happening to generic drug prices? October 2018 NADAC Survey Update

What’s happening to generic drug prices? October 2018 NADAC Survey Update

It’s NADAC survey results week, which means it’s time for our third installment of “what happened to generic drug prices last month.” It looks like there was a bit of net deflation, but overall, there were an equal number of price increases and decreases. But as always, the details matter. Check out our latest drug pricing report for a lot of important updates, plus an updated NADAC Packed Bubble Chart!

New visualization tool examines the wild universe of prescription drug price markups

New visualization tool examines the wild universe of prescription drug price markups

After Bloomberg put drug price markups on the map, we decided a deeper dive into markups was warranted to see which drugs were getting overinflated and which drugs were not. To sort things out, we built a new visualization dashboard to compare drug markups between state Medicaid programs. We call our creation the “Medicaid Markup Universe.” In this new visualization tool, we found a disturbingly large difference in drug markups across generic drugs in state Medicaid managed care programs, resulting in a slew of warped incentives that pressure supply chain members to value certain medications over others, and thus, certain patients over others. Check out our newest visualization tool and read our latest drug pricing report.

What's happening to generic drug prices? - September 2018 NADAC Survey Update

What's happening to generic drug prices? - September 2018 NADAC Survey Update

It’s NADAC survey results week, which means it’s time for our second installment of “what happened to generic drug prices last month.” Good news. Prices are dropping significantly. Check out our latest drug pricing report for lots of important updates, plus an updated NADAC Packed Bubble Chart!

Bloomberg puts drug price markups on the map

Bloomberg puts drug price markups on the map

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reporters Robert Langreth, David Ingold, and Jackie Gu published their results of a fascinating deep dive into Medicaid generic drug prices in their article, “The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen Use to Rake in Millions.” The piece did an excellent job explaining the ins and outs of the hidden pricing spreads that exist on generic drugs, and it featured some intuitive visualizations that helped educate readers who may not have been familiar with these little-known drug price tactics. Bloomberg’s methodology was nearly identical to what we used to create our Medicaid Drug Pricing Heat Map, so not surprisingly, the results were very similar as well. The analysis conducted by Bloomberg also integrated the results of a recent report from the state of Ohio's Auditor, which found that in a one-year span, PBMs pocketed more than $224 million dollars in spread pricing. Armed with this data, we set out to discover if we could deduce what pharmacy margins were over that same time period in an effort to peel back new layers of the onion and provide better information on where the money is going. Check out our newest drug pricing report to learn more about where the money is going on hidden prescription drug markups.

HHS touts progress in the fight for lower drug prices. Are they making an impact?

HHS touts progress in the fight for lower drug prices. Are they making an impact?

On August 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an analysis of the accomplishments that the Trump administration has achieved in the first 100 days since the release of the President’s American Patients First Blueprint to lower prescription drug prices. The HHS Report on 100 Days of Action on the American Patient First Blueprint provides some interesting insight into the Trump administration’s progress on delivering on their promise of lower drug prices. While there is a lot that needs deciphering, HHS made two very significant claims in this report. They assert that over the first 100 days since the Blueprint's release there have been significantly less brand-drug price increases, and significantly more generic and brand price decreases. After some careful number-crunching and analysis, we can now tell you where we believe the administration seems to be making headway and where things still seem incomplete. More importantly, we hope we can provide some better clarity into whether or not any current actions have directly impacted lower drug costs. Check out our newest research that shows what really happened to drug prices in the first 100 days since the release of the White House blueprint.

Latest CMS pharmacy survey shaves $17.9 million off of Medicaid generic drug costs

Latest CMS pharmacy survey shaves $17.9 million off of Medicaid generic drug costs

Each week CMS posts updates to its National Average Drug Acquisition Price (NADAC) database. It quietly happens each Tuesday, without much fanfare.  If you check this weekly, you likely have noticed that most weeks, not much changes, but then there is one week each month where there is a lot of pricing action, almost exclusively within generic drugs. We call this “survey results week,” the week when CMS publishes changes to thousands of NDCs based on the survey results from prior month invoice costs reported by pharmacies all across the country. The August survey results have been released, and there has been a lot of pricing movement. Generic Viagra prices are in freefall, and generic Ziac prices are soaring, but based on our aggregate analysis, it looks like this month’s overall drug costs actually decreased!

What drugs are we buying? Check out the new 46brooklyn State Utilization Dashboard!

What drugs are we buying? Check out the new 46brooklyn State Utilization Dashboard!

We are pleased to announce a new visualization tool that shows what prescription drugs that state Medicaid programs are purchasing. This new 46brooklyn State Utilization Dashboard will now provide an easy way to see the degree with which each prescription drug is being dispensed to Medicaid patients on a state-by-state basis. This new dashboard will show unprecedented levels of detail in what state Medicaid programs are paying for. As taxpayers, we believe you deserve to know what you bought, and to also see how much you spent. There are a myriad of ways this new tool can be used, so hopefully you can use it to answer every question you ever (or never) had.

2,500% price increase? New 46brooklyn report highlights hydroxychloroquine pricing tactics

2,500% price increase? New 46brooklyn report highlights hydroxychloroquine pricing tactics

It is well-known that competition in the generic manufacturer marketplace drives drug prices down considerably. Plaquenil, a brand-name drug that has been on the market since 1955, eventually saw generics enter the market almost a quarter of a century ago. By all accounts, generic Plaquenil – known as hydroxychloroquine – had become a very affordable drug at approximately 10 cents per pill. But FDA actions quickly dried up the supply of the drug, causing prices to balloon more than 2,500%. 46brooklyn’s newest drug pricing report examines how state Medicaid programs were impacted by this price spike, and how some states continued paying elevated rates even after the price came crashing back down.