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AI based “credit score” for drugs draws criticism 
Narx Scores and similar tools help clinicians review controlled substance prescriptions. They influence the prescribing of painkillers much like a credit score influences the terms of a loan. The use of systems to analyze opioid-prescribing data has sparked questions over whether they have undergone enough independent testing. This prescription-drug data has led patients to be dismissed from clinician practices, which could leave patients at risk of being untreated or undertreated for pain, the CDC warned. It also noted that risk scores may be generated by “proprietary algorithms that are not publicly available” and could lead to biased results. (Medpage Today)
Retail pharmacies make millions of errors a year
California pharmacies make an estimated 5 million errors every year, according to the California Board of Pharmacy. That’s just an estimate, because pharmacies are not required to report errors. Most of the mistakes, according to citations issued by the board and reviewed by The LA Times, occurred at chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. Pharmacists have long complained that management policies at the big chains have resulted in understaffed stores and overworked staff. The LA Times reports. (LA Times)

Practice Transformation

CVS enters the biosimilars business
CVS Health is launching a new company that will work directly with drug makers to produce and commercialize “biosimilar” drugs, the less expensive versions of expensive brand prescriptions derived from biotechnology. The new company, Cordavis, will operate as “a wholly owned subsidiary that will work directly with manufacturers to commercialize and/or co-produce biosimilar products,” CVS said. It’s first product: biosimilar known as Hyrimoz for Humira, an expensive treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases. (Forbes; announcement)

Evidence & Innovation

BSCA to drop CVS Caremark as PBM
Blue Shield of California plans to drop CVS Caremark as its PBM—and says it expects to save millions. BSCA, which covers 4.8 million members, plans to contract with multiple partners, including Amazon Pharmacy for at-home drug delivery and Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company for access to low-cost medications; Late last year, CVS lost a major PBM contract with health insurer Centene to Cigna-owned Express Scripts. (Healthcare Dive)
Medicare negotiations may have limited short-term impact 
Some say the Medicare drug negotiations will mean tremendous savings for seniors. Others claim it will lead to the demise of America’s pharmaceutical industry. The immediate impact will likely be relatively small, experts told Axios. Constraints within the new law, existing discounts on many of these Medicare, and fear of backlash could mean a tempered rollout of the new negotiation program. Long term, however, it could have ripple effect spreading across the pharmaceutical industry, The Hill reports. (The Hill; Axios)

Policy Solutions

Biologics coverage varies; cancer drugs have fewest restrictions
Americans like the promise value-based care, but they’re not crazy about the term, according to new research from United States of Care. Overall, 64% of people in the national survey supported value-based care over the fee-for-service model. They want a system that prioritizes the patient experience over quantity—and they want a care experience where the provider genuinely cares about them as a whole person, the research found. Fifty-nine percent supported the term “value-based care,” but other terms, including “quality-focused care” and “patient-first care” scored better. Many associated “value-based care” with cheap, low-quality services. (Fierce Healthcare)

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