ASP figures: Big change for budesonide

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BALTIMORE - Industry stakeholders were caught off guard this week when the average sales price (ASP) of budesonide, as one person put it, "tanked."

In the latest ASP figures, released June 18, budesonide (J7626) plunged from $6.42 per dose to $4.85 per dose--a drop of $1.57. While the December launch of the first generic version of the drug--previously available only as brand name Pulmicort--was expected to lower the reimbursement, stakeholders didn't expect it to drop this much.

"What was their motivation to discount that drug to bring down the ASP to where it is?" said Wayne Vega, senior vice president of sales for Harvard Drug Group.

With competing generics not due to hit the market for several months, generic drug maker Teva has no need to offer super-low pricing to gain market share, say stakeholders.

"If (Teva) is willing to adjust the pricing it would help us," said Sam Jarczynski, president of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based RxStat. "It's pretty much a loser for us right now."

Adding insult to injury: There's a shortage of Teva's generic, say providers.

"We are having to buy more Pulmicort-brand product just to fulfill our patients' prescriptions," said David McDonald, president of Texarkana, Texas-based Senior Respiratory. "It's been horrible and it's hitting everybody, not just us."

Other drugs seeing a decline in ASP were Brovana (J7605) and Perforomist (J7606). Brovana was down 5 cents per dose to about $5.18 and Perforomist was down 4 cents to about $4.68 per dose.

That's putting a squeeze on Jarczynksi, who said his cost for Brovana has gone up, thanks to a reduction in the number of contracts offered to providers by manufacturer Sepracor.

"They are only (going to contract with) a couple of the major national companies," he said. "They are the only ones getting a decent price."

The news wasn't all bad. Albuterol (J7613) moved up to nearly 17.3 cents per dose, a market correction of sorts for a drug that over the past year or so had seen rock-bottom pricing of 11 cents to 12 cents per dose. Last October, Mylan Pharmaceuticals raised the price of the drug to bring it more in line with higher retail pricing and other manufacturers followed suit.

"They're not yielding to the deep discounts of the home healthcare market," said Vega. "They are finally doing what should have been done for a long time."