Hospital groups are lobbying regulators at the federal and state levels to restrict the practice of “white bagging” in physician-administered specialty pharmacy dispensing. Practitioners and pharmacists argue that the practice, which is driven by vertically integrated insurer-PBM-specialty pharmacy combinations like UnitedHealth Group’s Optum and Anthem, Inc.’s IngenioRx, is a danger to patients with severe conditions, but it’s not clear whether regulators have the ability to block the practice.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) on Feb. 4 sent a letter to CMS asking the agency to review UnitedHealth’s “specialty pharmacy coverage policies” and specifically called out “certain white bagging,” arguing that the practice degrades quality of care, disrupts the 340B Drug Pricing Program and could even be a danger to patients. Meanwhile, in connection with a Feb. 18 meeting of the California State Board of Pharmacy, several provider groups called for the board to stop white bagging. The meeting was billed as “informational” on the board’s website, so it is unlikely to result in immediate action.