Amazon’s PillPack is battling with CVS and Walgreens over getting patient prescriptions

Amazon bought internet pharmacy PillPack last year, a deal that sent shares of pharmacy companies tumbling. To get people onto its mail-delivery service, PillPack needs patients to switch from their existing pharmacy, which often means transferring prescriptions from CVS or Walgreens, the two largest chains in the U.S. CVS and Walgreens are rejecting an increasing number of their requests, claiming that PillPack isn’t getting proper consent from patients. The company is already battling Surescri


Amazon bought internet pharmacy PillPack last year, a deal that sent shares of pharmacy companies tumbling. To get people onto its mail-delivery service, PillPack needs patients to switch from their existing pharmacy, which often means transferring prescriptions from CVS or Walgreens, the two largest chains in the U.S. CVS and Walgreens are rejecting an increasing number of their requests, claiming that PillPack isn’t getting proper consent from patients. The company is already battling Surescri
Amazon’s PillPack is battling with CVS and Walgreens over getting patient prescriptions Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-08-06  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, pillpack, transfers, requests, battling, transfer, patients, cvs, service, amazon, walgreens, prescriptions, getting, amazons, pharmacy, patient


Amazon's PillPack is battling with CVS and Walgreens over getting patient prescriptions

PillPack packet Source: PillPack

As Amazon bolsters its PillPack business to take on the prescription drug market, industry stalwarts CVS and Walgreens are vigorously defending their turf, setting up a protracted battle between the old guard and the new. Amazon bought internet pharmacy PillPack last year, a deal that sent shares of pharmacy companies tumbling. To get people onto its mail-delivery service, PillPack needs patients to switch from their existing pharmacy, which often means transferring prescriptions from CVS or Walgreens, the two largest chains in the U.S. But PillPack has run into a significant roadblock in getting those transfers approved. CVS and Walgreens are rejecting an increasing number of their requests, claiming that PillPack isn’t getting proper consent from patients. PillPack says it always gets patient approval before making transfer requests and blames the pharmacy giants for unfairly refusing to honor them, sometimes hanging up on PillPack’s pharmacists or throwing the request forms in the trash. “While incumbent pharmacies may be disappointed in the loss of business, it is unacceptable to make unsubstantiated allegations about PillPack’s practices while simultaneously creating systemic barriers that make it harder for a customer to switch pharmacies, ” PillPack spokeswoman Jacquelyn Miller told CNBC. The conflict has continued to escalate, with a source familiar with the matter telling CNBC that Amazon is documenting all cases of refused transfers. The incumbents are unwilling to roll over for Amazon in a market where a single customer, who often has chronic conditions and requires regular refills, can represent thousands of dollars of revenue a year through copayments and insurance coverage.

PillPack co-founders TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen.

PillPack, a licensed pharmacy service in 49 of 50 states, launched in 2014 with a service that neatly packages, labels and delivers medications every month with free shipping. CVS has followed with its own multi-dose packaging option for patients who need help taking multiple medications. Walgreens also has a home delivery program. The intensifying spat over transfers offers a window into the larger challenge Amazon faces as it tries to mimic its e-commerce playbook in the prescription medication world, where spending in the U.S. is approaching $500 billion a year. The company is already battling Surescripts, an e-prescribing network part-owned by CVS and Express Scripts, over a patient data dispute. Last month, Surescripts threatened to cut off a contract with a third party called ReMy Health, which gave PillPack access to data about patient prescription histories, and said it would turn the case over to the FBI. CVS says it’s not indiscriminately rejecting transfer orders, but rather is calling patients when a request is submitted to make sure the customer has asked for it. Many of these patients are older and unfamiliar with the new world of online shopping and mobile apps. The pharmacies say they’re only denying transfers when patients tell them they never signed up for PillPack or have never even heard of it. The issue can be particularly challenging for people with dementia who may not have intended to sign up or not remembered doing so. Brian Caswell, the owner of Wolkar Drug in Kansas, said he’s called patients about PillPack requests only to have them deny ever providing consent. “Could they have clicked on something online and forgot about it?” Caswell said. “It’s possible.” There could also be patients who did request a transfer to PillPack but are embarrassed to admit it when their pharmacist calls for confirmation.

Year-long dispute


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-08-06  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, pillpack, transfers, requests, battling, transfer, patients, cvs, service, amazon, walgreens, prescriptions, getting, amazons, pharmacy, patient


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Surescripts ups its battle with Amazon PillPack: ‘We are turning the matter over to the FBI’

Surescripts is upping its battle with Amazon-owned PillPack, accusing a third company of providing PillPack with patient prescription information “fraudulently,” and threatening to turn the matter over to the FBI. It’s the latest in a series of moves that could make it harder for Amazon to enter the prescription drug market. Amazon made its first steps into the space in 2018, when it acquired online pharmacy start-up called PillPack. A year later, Amazon is engaged in a tense battle with one of


Surescripts is upping its battle with Amazon-owned PillPack, accusing a third company of providing PillPack with patient prescription information “fraudulently,” and threatening to turn the matter over to the FBI. It’s the latest in a series of moves that could make it harder for Amazon to enter the prescription drug market. Amazon made its first steps into the space in 2018, when it acquired online pharmacy start-up called PillPack. A year later, Amazon is engaged in a tense battle with one of
Surescripts ups its battle with Amazon PillPack: ‘We are turning the matter over to the FBI’ Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-29  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, turning, ups, prescription, company, space, employee, latest, pharmacy, matter, battle, pillpack, amazon, fbi, surescripts


Surescripts ups its battle with Amazon PillPack: 'We are turning the matter over to the FBI'

Surescripts is upping its battle with Amazon-owned PillPack, accusing a third company of providing PillPack with patient prescription information “fraudulently,” and threatening to turn the matter over to the FBI. It’s the latest in a series of moves that could make it harder for Amazon to enter the prescription drug market.

Americans are spending an excessive amount on prescription drugs, the cost of which likely topped $330 billion in 2018. Amazon made its first steps into the space in 2018, when it acquired online pharmacy start-up called PillPack.

A year later, Amazon is engaged in a tense battle with one of the largest incumbents in the space. Surescripts is owned by a coalition of potential PillPack competitors, including CVS and ExpressScripts, and manages about 80% of all U.S. prescriptions. It is such a dominant force that in April, the Federal Trade Commission sued the company, alleging “illegal monopolization of e-prescription markets.”

The battle is the latest in a string of disputes between Amazon and the established pharmacy companies since the PillPack deal — a deal that sent shares of pharmacy owners and pharmacy benefit managers tumbling. Earlier this year, CVS filed a lawsuit against a former employee after he told the company he would be taking a job at PillPack. A judge blocked the employee from working for PillPack for 18 months.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-29  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, turning, ups, prescription, company, space, employee, latest, pharmacy, matter, battle, pillpack, amazon, fbi, surescripts


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Amazon threatens to sue major pharmacy player if it prevents PillPack from accessing patient drug data

That comprehensive data comes indirectly from Surescripts, an electronic-prescribing company that’s owned by some of PillPack’s potential competitors, including CVS and Express Scripts. This week, ReMy indicated that it would cease working with PillPack in the coming days, people familiar with the matter said. “PillPack does not have an agreement with Surescripts that in any way covers the use of this important Protected Health Information,” the statement said. PillPack, in response, noted that


That comprehensive data comes indirectly from Surescripts, an electronic-prescribing company that’s owned by some of PillPack’s potential competitors, including CVS and Express Scripts. This week, ReMy indicated that it would cease working with PillPack in the coming days, people familiar with the matter said. “PillPack does not have an agreement with Surescripts that in any way covers the use of this important Protected Health Information,” the statement said. PillPack, in response, noted that
Amazon threatens to sue major pharmacy player if it prevents PillPack from accessing patient drug data Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-19  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, remy, week, drug, patient, information, data, pharmacy, surescripts, working, sue, prevents, health, pillpack, player, major, company, threatens


Amazon threatens to sue major pharmacy player if it prevents PillPack from accessing patient drug data

PillPack co-founders TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen.

Just over a year after buying online pharmacy PillPack for $753 million, Amazon is engaged in a bitter battle with an incumbent player in the pharmacy industry, which sources tell CNBC is working behind the scenes to prevent the company from accessing important patient data. PillPack’s pharmacy delivery service relies on its access to an accurate list of its patients’ medications, so it can properly inform them about health and safety risks, uncover any duplicate subscriptions and help them keep up with refills. That comprehensive data comes indirectly from Surescripts, an electronic-prescribing company that’s owned by some of PillPack’s potential competitors, including CVS and Express Scripts. According to two people familiar with the matter, PillPack was informed this week that it will soon be cut off from accessing that data via a third-party entity, ReMy Health — a move that could seriously complicate its business. Amazon is considering legal action against Surescripts to halt those efforts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. One person told CNBC that PillPack has already sent a cease-and-desist letter to Surescripts. It’s the latest in a string of disputes between Amazon and the established pharmacy companies since its purchase of PillPack in June 2018 — a deal that sent shares of pharmacy owners and pharmacy benefit managers tumbling. Last month, CVS filed a lawsuit against a former employee after he told the company he would be taking a job at PillPack. A judge blocked the employee from working for PillPack for 18 months.

Fighting the FTC

Spending on prescriptions in the U.S. is approaching $500 billion a year, and the industry has long been controlled by a handful of large players, who manage pricing and access to medications. Amazon’s jump into the market poses a serious threat to the status quo by giving the e-commerce giant relationships with health insurers and licenses to ship prescriptions to every state except Hawaii. The current imbroglio shows the tangled nature of the pharmacy web, and how hard the incumbents are working to keep control over data and stem a competitive threat. Surescripts manages about 80% of all U.S. prescriptions. It is such a dominant force that in April, the Federal Trade Commission sued the company, alleging “illegal monopolization of e-prescription markets.” Surescripts said last week that the FTC’s complaint “makes significant factual errors” about its business and the market, and it has filed a motion to dismiss the case. PillPack doesn’t contract directly with Surescripts for patient medication information, but goes through ReMy, which compiles the raw data from Surescripts, cleans it up and offers it to clients through an application programming interface. Because PillPack is not contracting with Surescripts, its communication has been with ReMy. This week, ReMy indicated that it would cease working with PillPack in the coming days, people familiar with the matter said. The companies started working together in 2017, the people said. “PillPack is productively working with partners across the healthcare industry to help people throughout the U.S. who can benefit from a better pharmacy experience,” said Jacquelyn Miller, a PillPack spokesperson. “While we’re not surprised when powerful incumbents try to undermine these efforts, we are confident that our collaborative approach to bring customers more choice, more convenience, and improved quality will ultimately prevail.” Surescripts said in a statement it’s committed to privacy and security and that medication history “can reveal a lot about an individual’s health status, including the most sensitive of healthcare conditions.” “PillPack does not have an agreement with Surescripts that in any way covers the use of this important Protected Health Information,” the statement said. Suresripts added that its portfolio does not include “any businesses where we are the source of medication history to retail pharmacies.”

Surescripts said its board, which includes executives from CVS and Cigna, became aware of the issue only after an inquiry with CNBC. PillPack, in response, noted that it has contracts in place to manage protected health information as a licensed pharmacy. “Prescription history is only requested upon consent of the customer, and is held to the same data handling standards as all patient health information handled by PillPack,” Miller said. “Further, PillPack is a covered entity, the same as a physician’s office, and is bound by all healthcare privacy laws.”

‘Makes health care more costly’


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-19  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, remy, week, drug, patient, information, data, pharmacy, surescripts, working, sue, prevents, health, pillpack, player, major, company, threatens


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This health investor shadowed Jeff Bezos and worked for Bill Gates — here’s what he learned

Neupert went on to Microsoft, his second stint at the company, where he led a new health solutions group. From a short time observing Bezos, he learned something that was fundamentally different at Amazon than at Microsoft. “He did what was the best thing for Amazon,” Neupert said. Electronic medical records systems were emerging but only a few large health systems, like Kaiser Permanente, were starting to shift over to vendors such as Epic Systems. One former Microsoft Health colleague, Sean No


Neupert went on to Microsoft, his second stint at the company, where he led a new health solutions group. From a short time observing Bezos, he learned something that was fundamentally different at Amazon than at Microsoft. “He did what was the best thing for Amazon,” Neupert said. Electronic medical records systems were emerging but only a few large health systems, like Kaiser Permanente, were starting to shift over to vendors such as Epic Systems. One former Microsoft Health colleague, Sean No
This health investor shadowed Jeff Bezos and worked for Bill Gates — here’s what he learned Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-19  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, amazon, jeff, bezos, shadowed, company, health, bill, microsoft, learned, neupert, investor, gates, systems, drugstore, pharmacy, worked, heres, dont


This health investor shadowed Jeff Bezos and worked for Bill Gates — here's what he learned

Jeff Bezos’s ambitions in health care are no longer a secret. Between the Haven partnership with J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, his company’s stealthy work in cancer research, investments in health clinics for employees and last year’s $753 million purchase of online drug seller PillPack, the Amazon CEO is openly taking on the $3.5 trillion health-care industry. While most of those developments are very recent, Bezos has had his eyes on this market for over two decades. Nobody knows that better than Peter Neupert, who became CEO of online pharmacy Drugstore.com in 1998, after Bezos recruited him for the job in tandem with Amazon’s investment in the company. It was the beginning of a long relationship between the two and their effort to apply emerging technologies to life sciences. Neupert went on to Microsoft, his second stint at the company, where he led a new health solutions group. He left in 2012 and has since been a sought-after advisor for hospitals, biotech companies and start-ups. “People are often approaching me for solutions,” Neupert, 63, told CNBC in a recent interview. “What I tell them is I don’t always have the right answers, but I do have a lot of scars and I’m happy to share those.” Bezos stepped off Drugstore’s board in 2001, and Neupert left the company three years later. But they’re both engaged, more than ever before, in advancing health care. Amazon is hiring aggressively at PillPack to become a major player in prescription delivery and is exploring a host of efforts to bring down the cost of care. Neupert is on the board of medical lab company LabCorp, as well as Adaptive Biotechnologies, which recently went public, and a couple early-stage ventures. He’s also on the board of trustees at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Meanwhile, Amazon is still a big part of Neupert’s life in other ways — he has two kids and a son-in-law who work at the company’s headquarters in Seattle. That’s where it all started for him 21 years ago.

Jumping to a dot-com

Neupert was working for Bill Gates at Microsoft, where he’d launched the MSNBC network as a joint venture with NBC. He was approached by John Doerr of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins about a new start-up that aimed to sell prescription medicines, beauty products and over-the-counter drugs online. Doerr, an early Amazon investor and board member at the time, brought Bezos along for the recruiting meeting. “They were looking for someone who could take a 10-page business plan and turn it into a real business at a time when everyone was starting companies,” Neupert recalled. Leaving was a tough call. Microsoft was on a tear and would soon surpass General Electric as the world’s most valuable company, while Drugstore was an idea on a whiteboard backed by a cash-burning dot-com darling. So Neupert asked if he could shadow Bezos for a few days, following him around for conversations with board members, staff meetings and conference calls. Bezos agreed, and Neupert took the job. From a short time observing Bezos, he learned something that was fundamentally different at Amazon than at Microsoft. “I learned quickly from those days that opinions don’t matter,” Neupert said. “Data matters.” Bezos talked about A/B testing (comparing two versions of a design or project), rapid customer feedback and the importance of experimenting and failing. In April 1999, two months after Drugstore announced the investment from Amazon and Kleiner Perkins, Bezos and Neupert appeared together on Charlie Rose. The host asked Neupert why a consumer would rather buy from Drugstore than their local pharmacy.

‘Nobody likes to browse the Preparation H aisle’

“They don’t like waiting in line for the pharmacist up behind the glass counter,” Neupert said. “They don’t like shopping in public for very private things.” Bezos chimed in to say, “browsing for books is fun but nobody likes to browse the Preparation H aisle.” That was followed by a momentary pause and then Bezos’s signature — some say maniacal — laugh. Drugstore survived the dot-com bust but struggled to grow in an extremely fragmented business. Neupert left in 2004, five years before Walgreens bought the company for over $400 million and ultimately shut it down. Along the way, Amazon learned some key lessons that would benefit the company as it pursued a deal with PillPack many years later. One big realization was that the established pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the industry middlemen, would go to great lengths to protect the status quo.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in 1997 Paul Souders | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Drugstore was shut out of the pharmacy business by Medco Health Solutions, one of the largest PBMs at the time, which meant it had no real way of selling prescription drugs. PillPack more recently experienced similar resistance from Express Scripts. Over time, Neupert saw glimmers of Bezos’s ruthless style, which investors and analysts have said is a primary driver to his success. During the dot-com crash, for example, Amazon stopped giving away its email marketing access list to Drugstore and start charging for it. “He did what was the best thing for Amazon,” Neupert said. “I didn’t like it at the time, but I ultimately respected it.”

Second act at Microsoft

After leaving Drugstore in 2004, Neupert wasn’t quite ready to give up on health care. Over the following months, he spent some time in Washington, D.C., paying close attention to regulators and pharmacy lobbyists. He observed how the major players had their own entrenched interests, which created a big problem for medical software. Record-keeping inside large hospitals and doctor’s offices was still run on a combination of paper and homegrown systems. Electronic medical records systems were emerging but only a few large health systems, like Kaiser Permanente, were starting to shift over to vendors such as Epic Systems. So much critical data was siloed. “It struck me that a few thousand people die every year because of adverse drug events, and a lot of that was down to a failure of systems engineering and software design,” Neupert said. That thinking brought Neupert back to Microsoft, where he saw an opportunity to build a business to help the health-care system with that problem. He kick-started a health unit, launching a product called HealthVault for consumers and health providers to aggregate medical information. One former Microsoft Health colleague, Sean Nolan, said the mission was ambitious and ahead of its time. “Peter was always drawn to big ideas,” Nolan told CNBC. “And he was never scared of challenging conventional wisdom.” While it’s still working on that mission today under corporate vice president Peter Lee, the consumer part of the equation failed to get much traction. Microsoft announced in April that it will shut HealthVault later this year. Lee said there are 72 projects he inherited from Neupert. “It’s remarkable how much energy he injected into the health-care space that really never left,” Lee said, in an interview. “It ranges from synthetic biology to radiology imaging. It was comprehensive. It’s surprising to me how much stuff Peter got started.”

Since leaving Microsoft in 2012, Neupert has advised numerous other health-tech companies. And he’s watching from the outside as Amazon battles the industry incumbents. “Bezos deeply understands pharmacy and all its complexities,” Neupert said. When he’s not sitting on boards, cycling or spending time with family, Neupert is often sharing advice with entrepreneurs. One thing he learned from Bezos is to write down your plan or approach to the market in a document and not in a bullet-pointed presentation, because complete sentences and paragraphs don’t leave much room for assumptions and interpretations. “In rapidly growing companies, this is essential for folks to stay on the same page,” he said.

‘Engage the regulators early’


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-19  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, amazon, jeff, bezos, shadowed, company, health, bill, microsoft, learned, neupert, investor, gates, systems, drugstore, pharmacy, worked, heres, dont


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Chewy stock rises after release of its first results since IPO, loss narrows in line with forecast

A dog sits in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during Chewy Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York, U.S., on Friday, June 14, 2019. Chewy shares rose Thursday after the pet e-tailer reported first-quarter sales climbed 45% as its loss narrowed, in line with the forecast it issued at the time of its recent IPO. For the quarter ended May 5, Chewy said its loss narrowed to $29.6 million from a loss of $59.8 million in the year-ago period. Chewy’s growth initiatives include expa


A dog sits in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during Chewy Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York, U.S., on Friday, June 14, 2019. Chewy shares rose Thursday after the pet e-tailer reported first-quarter sales climbed 45% as its loss narrowed, in line with the forecast it issued at the time of its recent IPO. For the quarter ended May 5, Chewy said its loss narrowed to $29.6 million from a loss of $59.8 million in the year-ago period. Chewy’s growth initiatives include expa
Chewy stock rises after release of its first results since IPO, loss narrows in line with forecast Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-18  Authors: lauren hirsch
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, loss, forecast, release, york, ipo, quarter, stock, pet, rises, shares, chewy, sales, narrows, pharmacy, company, line, million, results


Chewy stock rises after release of its first results since IPO, loss narrows in line with forecast

A dog sits in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during Chewy Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York, U.S., on Friday, June 14, 2019.

Chewy shares rose Thursday after the pet e-tailer reported first-quarter sales climbed 45% as its loss narrowed, in line with the forecast it issued at the time of its recent IPO.

For the quarter ended May 5, Chewy said its loss narrowed to $29.6 million from a loss of $59.8 million in the year-ago period. Chewy’s profitability has been a concern for some. Dog food is heavy, and therefore expensive to ship.

Sales rose to $1.1 billion from $763.5 million a year ago, continuing Chewy’s strong momentum with pet owners. The company reported roughly 11.3 million active customers for the quarter and $343 in net sales per active customer.

Chewy’s growth initiatives include expansion of its private label business and the launch of Chewy Pharmacy, an online pet pharmacy. In the first quarter, Chewy opened a pharmacy in its Phoenix, Arizona, fulfillment center. It also rolled out improvements to its mobile app.

The retailer recorded auto-ship sales of $743.9 million, up nearly 56% from the quarter prior.

The first-quarter results, which are in line with previous guidance set forth in the company’s prospectus for its June initial public offering, sent shares of Chewy up about 1% in aftermarket trading. Shares of the company are down 9.5% since its debut, which had valued the company at more than $14 billion.

Chewy, founded in 2011 by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day, calls itself the “largest pure-play pet e-tailer in the United States.” It has distinguished itself from many of its competitors with customer service that includes 24/7 access and two-day shipping of online orders.

PetSmart, which is backed by private equity firm BC Partners, acquired Chewy in 2017 for $3 billion.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-07-18  Authors: lauren hirsch
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, loss, forecast, release, york, ipo, quarter, stock, pet, rises, shares, chewy, sales, narrows, pharmacy, company, line, million, results


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CVS just laid out a big reason why health companies are worried about Amazon

The judge this week ruled in CVS’ favor, preventing Lavin from taking immediate employment at PillPack. It’s a huge business — CVS’ PBM business represented approximately 60% of its overall revenues in 2018, or around $116 billion, according to a person familiar with CVS’ business. Amazon PillPack CEO TJ Parker, in a deposition in the Lavin case, admitted to the court that the company had “explored a number of different things.” In other words, CVS worries that Amazon is hiring Lavin to approach


The judge this week ruled in CVS’ favor, preventing Lavin from taking immediate employment at PillPack. It’s a huge business — CVS’ PBM business represented approximately 60% of its overall revenues in 2018, or around $116 billion, according to a person familiar with CVS’ business. Amazon PillPack CEO TJ Parker, in a deposition in the Lavin case, admitted to the court that the company had “explored a number of different things.” In other words, CVS worries that Amazon is hiring Lavin to approach
CVS just laid out a big reason why health companies are worried about Amazon Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-20  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, pbms, amazon, companies, pbm, insurance, laid, cvs, health, pillpack, worried, blue, lavin, big, pharmacy, reason, plans


CVS just laid out a big reason why health companies are worried about Amazon

Kyle Walsh | CNBC

When word spread that Amazon would move into health care in 2017, health-care executives had a ready answer: We are not afraid. “I honestly don’t believe that Amazon will be interested in the near future in the next few years in this market,” Walgreens’ CEO Stefano Pessina told investors in an earnings call in July 2017. “I think we have a lot of capabilities and a value proposition that can compete effectively in the market,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo said back in August. But recent legal actions tell a different story.

In April, CVS filed a lawsuit against John Lavin, a former senior vice president in charge of CVS Caremark’s retail pharmacy network, after Lavin told the company he was leaving to take a job at Amazon’s pharmacy arm, PillPack. The judge this week ruled in CVS’ favor, preventing Lavin from taking immediate employment at PillPack. That follows another case from January of this year, where insurance giant UnitedHealth sued one of its employees for attempting to join a different Amazon initiative. That was Haven, Amazon’s joint employer health venture with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan. These lawsuits suggest incumbents are more concerned than they’re letting on in public.

The underlying concern: Amazon going directly to insurers

Amazon has said almost nothing in public about its health-care strategy. But Amazon could disrupt the space dramatically by negotiating directly with insurance companies on drug pricing, cutting out the existing pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs. All of that could potentially lower health-care costs for consumers. Among other functions, PBMs help insurance companies negotiate lower drug costs. Manufacturers arrange discounts, called rebates, with the benefits managers so they can fix a spot for their products on a PBM’s list of preferred drugs. It’s a huge business — CVS’ PBM business represented approximately 60% of its overall revenues in 2018, or around $116 billion, according to a person familiar with CVS’ business. Amazon PillPack CEO TJ Parker, in a deposition in the Lavin case, admitted to the court that the company had “explored a number of different things.” But he said the company had “no immediate plans” to compete with CVS Caremark’s core offering, its PBM. CVS certainly seems to think differently, according to the lawsuit to prevent Lavin from working for PillPack. “Given its robust infrastructure, operational capacity, and distribution reach, Amazon-PillPack is uniquely positioned to negotiate directly with payers (insurers) and displace CVS Caremark’s mail-based services,” CVS argued in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction. In other words, CVS worries that Amazon is hiring Lavin to approach its clients — insurance plans — for deals that could undercut its PBM. In particular, CVS said PillPack is already approaching Blue Cross Blue Shield. (CNBC reported talks between PillPack and the insurance network in May.) “Most recently, Amazon-PillPack engaged in direct discussions with Blue Cross Blue Shield, a federation of 36 health insurance plans that cover more than 100 million Americans, to provide its members with prescription home delivery,” CVS’ motion reads.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-20  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, pbms, amazon, companies, pbm, insurance, laid, cvs, health, pillpack, worried, blue, lavin, big, pharmacy, reason, plans


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Pharmacy warns FDA of cancer-causing chemical found in widely used heart pill

A pharmacy warned the Food and Drug Administration that it found a chemical believed to cause cancer in a widely used blood pressure medication, according to a filing from the federal agency. The online pharmacy said it found the cancer-causing chemical in valsartan produced by five companies. The FDA will evaluate Valisure’s findings and will respond directly to the online pharmacy firm, FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn said in a statement to CNBC. Patients should continue to take their blood pressure


A pharmacy warned the Food and Drug Administration that it found a chemical believed to cause cancer in a widely used blood pressure medication, according to a filing from the federal agency. The online pharmacy said it found the cancer-causing chemical in valsartan produced by five companies. The FDA will evaluate Valisure’s findings and will respond directly to the online pharmacy firm, FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn said in a statement to CNBC. Patients should continue to take their blood pressure
Pharmacy warns FDA of cancer-causing chemical found in widely used heart pill Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-18  Authors: berkeley lovelace jr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, recall, warns, cancercausing, dmf, fda, online, medication, widely, blood, recalled, pill, pressure, chemical, pharmacy, drug, used, heart


Pharmacy warns FDA of cancer-causing chemical found in widely used heart pill

A pharmacy warned the Food and Drug Administration that it found a chemical believed to cause cancer in a widely used blood pressure medication, according to a filing from the federal agency.

Valisure, an online pharmacy company licensed in 37 states, told the FDA last week that high levels of dimethylformamide were found in valsartan, a drug produced by Swiss drugmaker Novartis and other pharmaceutical companies. The drug is used to treat hypertension in adults. The World Health Organization classifies dimethylformamide, or DMF, as a probable human carcinogen.

Valisure asked that the medication be recalled and requested that the FDA review and significantly lower the acceptable intake of DMF from its current level of 8,800,000 nanograms to less than 1,000 nanograms. The online pharmacy said it found the cancer-causing chemical in valsartan produced by five companies.

The FDA will evaluate Valisure’s findings and will respond directly to the online pharmacy firm, FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn said in a statement to CNBC. Patients should continue to take their blood pressure medication even if it is recalled until their doctor provides a replacement or alternative treatment, he added. Abruptly discontinuing a medication is risky, he said.

In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson for Novartis said in general the company’s manufacturing process does not use DMF but it cannot currently fully “exclude the possibility that traces of DMF (within applicable limits) may have been present in materials of other Drug Substances suppliers.”

“The quality and safety of all our products is of the utmost importance to Novartis,” the spokesperson added.

Several blood pressure drugs have already been recalled due to concerns about other cancer-causing chemicals. Earlier this month, Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals said it would expand a recall of its heart medication, losartan potassium, after a carcinogen known asN-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NMBA was detected. Torrent Pharmaceuticals in April said it would also recall losartan and Camber Pharmaceutical told the FDA in February it would recall the drug.

WATCH: New blood test technology may detect cancer


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-18  Authors: berkeley lovelace jr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, recall, warns, cancercausing, dmf, fda, online, medication, widely, blood, recalled, pill, pressure, chemical, pharmacy, drug, used, heart


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CVS to close some unprofitable stores as pharmacy chain looks to expand new HealthHUBs

CVS Health will close some unprofitable locations as it redesigns about 15% of its 9,800 stores to focus more on health services, a top executive said at the company’s investor day meeting in New York on Tuesday. CVS plans to remodel 1,500 locations by 2021 into its new HealthHUB format, which offers services like health screenings and blood tests. “We will also close stores,” he said, noting that CVS shuttered “a couple hundred” in the past few years after the company stopped selling cigarettes


CVS Health will close some unprofitable locations as it redesigns about 15% of its 9,800 stores to focus more on health services, a top executive said at the company’s investor day meeting in New York on Tuesday. CVS plans to remodel 1,500 locations by 2021 into its new HealthHUB format, which offers services like health screenings and blood tests. “We will also close stores,” he said, noting that CVS shuttered “a couple hundred” in the past few years after the company stopped selling cigarettes
CVS to close some unprofitable stores as pharmacy chain looks to expand new HealthHUBs Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-04  Authors: angelica lavito
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, chain, plans, looks, health, expand, renewal, pharmacy, unprofitable, services, healthhubs, leases, stores, close, overall, cvs, locations


CVS to close some unprofitable stores as pharmacy chain looks to expand new HealthHUBs

CVS Health will close some unprofitable locations as it redesigns about 15% of its 9,800 stores to focus more on health services, a top executive said at the company’s investor day meeting in New York on Tuesday.

CVS plans to remodel 1,500 locations by 2021 into its new HealthHUB format, which offers services like health screenings and blood tests. It also plans to open new stores in “high-growth markets” as well as in areas of the country where it doesn’t have much of a presence, like the Pacific Northwest, CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican said.

“We will also close stores,” he said, noting that CVS shuttered “a couple hundred” in the past few years after the company stopped selling cigarettes in 2014 and lost the bulk of sales there. Leases on roughly 500 locations come up for renewal every year and are regularly reviewed to see how profitable they are, he said.

“As these stores come due, we will closely evaluate our best financial options for those specific locations, with the goal of improving our overall productivity of our fleet,” he said.

CVS in May said it decided to close 46 underperforming stores. Hourican told CNBC in a separate interview Monday that he does not anticipate any “meaningful” store closures this year.

“When our leases are up for renewal … we will evaluate each and every single one of those locations to determine the best possible outcome for the overall environment from a profit improvement perspective,” he said.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-06-04  Authors: angelica lavito
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, chain, plans, looks, health, expand, renewal, pharmacy, unprofitable, services, healthhubs, leases, stores, close, overall, cvs, locations


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Trump administration postpones some Medicare drug-cost proposals

The Trump administration has decided to put part of its Medicare drug cost-cutting proposals on hold, for now, announcing that it will not give health plans the authority to negotiate pricing for certain drugs considered protected classes and will not require pharmacies to make sure Medicare patients get the lowest price on prescriptions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said Thursday it will not be implementing its lowest pharmacy price proposal for 2020, after receiving more than 4,000 co


The Trump administration has decided to put part of its Medicare drug cost-cutting proposals on hold, for now, announcing that it will not give health plans the authority to negotiate pricing for certain drugs considered protected classes and will not require pharmacies to make sure Medicare patients get the lowest price on prescriptions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said Thursday it will not be implementing its lowest pharmacy price proposal for 2020, after receiving more than 4,000 co
Trump administration postpones some Medicare drug-cost proposals Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-17  Authors: bertha coombs, ashley turner
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, drugs, protected, postpones, classes, drug, patients, trump, drugcost, medicare, plans, rule, administration, pharmacy, proposals


Trump administration postpones some Medicare drug-cost proposals

The Trump administration has decided to put part of its Medicare drug cost-cutting proposals on hold, for now, announcing that it will not give health plans the authority to negotiate pricing for certain drugs considered protected classes and will not require pharmacies to make sure Medicare patients get the lowest price on prescriptions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said Thursday it will not be implementing its lowest pharmacy price proposal for 2020, after receiving more than 4,000 comments on the rule. “CMS is continuing to carefully review these comments as we continue to consider policies that would lower prescription drug costs, address challenges that independent pharmacies face, and improve the quality of pharmacy care,” the agency said.

A pharmacist collects medications for prescriptions at a pharmacy. Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The administration also said it is not implementing a proposal, announced last fall, that would have allowed private Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans to negotiate prices on so-called protected classes of drugs, which include cancer and HIV treatments. A number of physician and patient groups raised concerns that opening the door to negotiations on those protected class drugs would allow plans to exclude some brand drugs and limit access to important treatments for Medicare patients. While not permitting plans to exclude coverage of drugs in protected classes, the administration will require insurers to list information on lower-cost alternative therapies in monthly Explanation of Benefits reports that are sent to patients. It also will allow plans to require prior authorization for some therapies. “Some Medicare beneficiaries may find it harder to access particular drugs without bureaucratic hassle, but other beneficiaries who do not take drugs in these classes may not see a change,” said Rachel Sachs, associate law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who specializes in health policy law. Not allowing the drug plans to negotiate prices for protected classes means that the administration will face increased costs to implement its key proposal to bring down drug prices, the ban on confidential pharmacy benefit discounts, known as PBM rebates. CMS actuaries and analysts at the Congressional Budget Office have estimated that the proposed rebate rule could bring down drug costs for individual patients but will cost the government up to $200 billion more than the current rules over the next 10 years to cover some of the cost of higher premium subsidies. “CMS commissioned one report which argued that the rebate rule might save money if Part D plans were able to exercise greater negotiating authority. [Thursday’s] news makes that outcome far less likely,” Sachs said.

‘This isn’t guns blazing’


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-17  Authors: bertha coombs, ashley turner
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, drugs, protected, postpones, classes, drug, patients, trump, drugcost, medicare, plans, rule, administration, pharmacy, proposals


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Amazon’s online drug push has one start-up cutting staff and selling pharmacies to help businesses compete

Nimble Pharmacy was among a crop of emerging companies, backed by venture capitalists, aiming to deliver prescription drugs from their own pharmacies to consumers’ homes or offices. Then Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, and Nimble needed to find a new business. That leaves independent pharmacies in a vulnerable position. Founded in 2014, Nimble has raised about $60 million from investors including Sequoia and Khosla Ventures. But Sattar said the physical pharmacies were too expens


Nimble Pharmacy was among a crop of emerging companies, backed by venture capitalists, aiming to deliver prescription drugs from their own pharmacies to consumers’ homes or offices. Then Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, and Nimble needed to find a new business. That leaves independent pharmacies in a vulnerable position. Founded in 2014, Nimble has raised about $60 million from investors including Sequoia and Khosla Ventures. But Sattar said the physical pharmacies were too expens
Amazon’s online drug push has one start-up cutting staff and selling pharmacies to help businesses compete Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-16  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, push, cutting, pharmacies, compete, help, independent, online, drug, delivery, walgreens, service, million, selling, startup, staff, nimble, pharmacy, physical, pillpack


Amazon's online drug push has one start-up cutting staff and selling pharmacies to help businesses compete

Nimble Pharmacy was among a crop of emerging companies, backed by venture capitalists, aiming to deliver prescription drugs from their own pharmacies to consumers’ homes or offices. Then Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, and Nimble needed to find a new business.

Earlier this year, the company shut down its six physical pharmacy locations, which were scattered across the Bay Area, and cut about half its staff — 40 people — to focus on developing a delivery service that could partner with independent brick-and-mortar pharmacies. To use the grocery analogy, instead of being a supermarket, Nimble would be like Instacart.

The big chain pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are getting into delivery, and Amazon is investing heavily in PillPack following the $753 million acquisition, so that consumers can get all their medicines by mail, along with automatic refills and 24/7 customer support. That leaves independent pharmacies in a vulnerable position.

“They now recognize that the world is changing, and they’re seeing acceleration of the service from Amazon-owned PillPack, as well as Walgreens and CVS launching delivery options of their own,” said Nimble CEO Talha Sattar.

Founded in 2014, Nimble has raised about $60 million from investors including Sequoia and Khosla Ventures. It described itself as a “full-service pharmacy” taking the “hassle out of the pharmacy experience.” But Sattar said the physical pharmacies were too expensive to operate, and it was too difficult to get doctors on board.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-05-16  Authors: christina farr
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, push, cutting, pharmacies, compete, help, independent, online, drug, delivery, walgreens, service, million, selling, startup, staff, nimble, pharmacy, physical, pillpack


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