SOURCE: The Burchfield Group

January 25, 2007 12:13 ET

From Wal-Mart to Washington, a Wide Range of Factors Will Affect Prescription Drug Coverage in the Year Ahead

Major News Stories From 2006 Lay Foundation for Pharmacy Benefits Planning for '07 and '08

ST. PAUL, MN -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 25, 2007 -- In 2006 we saw the completion of the first year of Medicare Part D implementation, Democrats take control in Washington and promise Medicare reform, Wal-Mart introduce $4 generic drugs, and the foundation of the AWP drug pricing model come under scrutiny. All of these happenings from last year form the basis for pharmacy benefit planning for 2007 and 2008, according to Brian Bullock, president of The Burchfield Group.

Bullock and his colleague Rob Shelley, vice president at The Burchfield Group, discuss the impact of the major events in 2006 and what to look for in 2007 in today's installment of The Burchfield Group's Pharmacy Benefits Podcast, downloadable for free at www.burchfieldgroup.com or from the iTunes podcast directory. The Burchfield Group is a pharmacy benefit consulting firm that helps employers and plan providers manage the prescription drug benefits they offer.

"There was a lot of important news around the pharmacy benefit in 2006," Bullock said. "We saw a lot of issues that affected plan sponsors, and now those issues are forming the basis of what plan sponsors should be thinking about as they look toward 2008."

For more information on managing drug spend in 2007 and beyond, visit www.burchfieldgroup.com/2007. That page includes a link to a document that illustrates the major factors that affect a plan sponsor's costs for providing prescription-drug coverage.

"As we start the new year, one very important issue for plan sponsors to look at is the lifespan of their pharmacy-benefit management contracts. If a PBM contract is set to expire within the next 12 months, this is the time to start updating and getting that contract reviewed and freshened up for plan year 2008," Shelley said. "There have been a lot of changes within the pharmacy benefit area over the past year, and these contracts need to reflect today's realities."

Bullock invites his podcast listeners to submit questions and comments, which he and Shelley will address in future podcasts. Write to bbullock@burchfieldgroup.com or call 651-389-5640 with questions or to learn more about what to look for in planning pharmacy benefits in the year ahead.

About The Burchfield Group

The Burchfield Group is a pharmacy benefit management consultancy based in St. Paul, Minn. The Burchfield Group brings innovative perspectives to managing pharmacy benefits, helping plan sponsors evaluate and select pharmacy benefit administration vendors, designing pharmacy benefit plans, monitoring plan and PBM performance, and auditing results. Their staff of experts has a vast knowledge of the PBM industry, including insight into drug manufacturers' influences, mail service profits and retail network margins. (www.burchfieldgroup.com)

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