RADAR on Drug Benefits

  • With Ride-Hailing in Trouble, Uber Makes Move to Deliver Prescriptions

    Uber Technologies Inc. is expanding its health care business to include last-mile prescription delivery through a partnership with NimbleRx, a California health care startup. The new joint service will start with pilot programs in the Dallas and Seattle areas, “with plans to grow in the coming months,” according to a blog post by Dan Trigub, the head of Uber Health.

    An Uber Health spokesperson tells AIS Health that the COVID-19 pandemic is a driving motivator for the partnership. The pandemic has wrought havoc on Uber’s core ride-hailing business: according to the firm’s second quarter earnings report, overall revenue during that period fell 29% year over year. The move into prescription delivery seems to indicate a company-wide pivot to delivery and last-mile logistics. During the second quarter, Uber Eats, the company’s food delivery service, brought in more revenue than ride-hailing for the first time in company history.

  • Part D Base Beneficiary Premium Will Grow Slightly in 2021

    The monthly Medicare Part D base beneficiary premium for 2021 will be $33.06, up from $32.74 in 2020, according to recent CMS projections. Meanwhile, the Part D national average monthly bid amount dropped slightly, from $47.59 in 2020 to $43.07 in 2021. While regional low-income premium subsidy amounts fluctuated over the past six years, 46 states are projected to see an increase in 2021. Hawaii is projected to see the biggest growth, with its average subsidy amount going up from $25.21 in 2020 to $31.12 in 2021.
  • Large Employers Warm Up To Point-of-Sale Rebates

    As the debate continues over the merits of overhauling the prescription drug rebate system, large employers — which traditionally have retained drug discounts that PBMs negotiate with manufacturers — appear to be searching for a different way forward.

    “Employers struggle to reconcile the role of manufacturer rebates in pharmacy benefit management. With no meaningful alternatives to the rebate-driven contracting model, large employers have continued to implement point-of-sale (POS) rebate programs,” stated the Business Group on Health’s 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey.

  • UnitedHealth Drops Descovy as Generic Shakes Up PrEP Class

    UnitedHealthcare is dropping coverage in its commercial plan formularies for Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication Descovy (emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide), steering patients instead to Gilead’s Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) as a generic version of Truvada is set to launch.

    Other plans are likely to follow suit in their PrEP formularies when Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. releases its generic version of Truvada on Sept. 30, one industry insider says. But formularies could be shaken up again in 2021 as an “A” rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for PrEP takes effect, requiring plans to provide health plan members at high risk of HIV with access to PrEP without copayments or deductibles.

  • Experts: USPS Slowdown Is Unlikely to Disrupt Most Rx Fills

    The recent, sudden disruption of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries has caused concern about people receiving their medications later than they normally would. While news reports and statements by lawmakers indicate that many Americans have lost prescriptions in the mail or received them late, drug benefit and supply chain experts say the disruption to the most vulnerable patients served by specialty and mail order pharmacies should be minimal.

    An Aug. 24 Axios-Ipsos poll indicates that disruptions in medication delivery have not been widespread so far. According to the poll, one in five Americans received medication through the mail during the preceding week. One in four of that group, or 5% of Americans overall, didn’t receive their medication or got it late.

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