Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oncology Reimbursement: Where Have the Drug Profits Gone? Part 2

Where is all the money going? In identifying who is making what profit in the oncology drug distribution system, there are four parts to consider in pricing:

Manufacturer cost: the technological cost to produce, shop, or otherwise bring the drug to market. Their profit margin should be transparent – they know the end user’s profit margin is at a maximum 6%.

Distributor cost: includes acquisition costs, storage costs, and a reasonable profit margin. This margin is 2%, considering their cost is only 1% above the manufacturer cost. ASP (average sales price) does not include this 2% shipping, and distribution cost and this is a permitted cost added on to the ASP.

GPO (group purchase organization) cost: commissioned to help medical oncologists in the community purchase drugs at their lowest possible price. The GPO secures a .25% to .75% discount from the distributor, who would negotiate an even better cost with higher volume. The manufacturer does need to know the demand to appropriately staff and manage production.

Acquisition cost (or Oncologists’ cost): should be ASP less 2% as an industry standard, but in reality, it is typically 4% above ASP.

The Million Dollar Questions
Who is taking the 2% to 4% margin?
Are all these costs necessary?

In the end, the oncologist is suffering from this process. It’s way too complicated.

We would like to hear your thoughts on what process should we engage in to eliminate both the GPO and distributor overhead factors. Simply reply on the “comment” button below. You can provide your name or be totally anonymous. You can also email me (Marty Neltner) at

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