ASP holds steady

Sunday, January 7, 2007

WASHINGTON - Leaders in the embattled neb-med industry were pleasantly surprised by the latest average sales price figures, which will remain stable for the first quarter of 2007.

"I'm happy to hear they had some stability for a change," said Tom Ryan, CEO of Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Homecare Concepts. "This 4% and 5% up and down every quarter was a little bit difficult."

According to pricing released last month: Xopenex jumped 9 cents a dose to $3.48 and DuoNeb dropped 3 cents to $1.05. Albuterol barely budged, from 15 to 16 cents.

"The one that really moves the needle is albuterol," said Balaji Gandhi, an analyst with New York-based Oppenheimer & Co. "When we initially (went to the ASP model) in 2005, we saw a lot of fluctuation. Maybe we've caught up."

Mickey Letson, president of Decatur, Ala.-based Letco Companies--a distributor of respiratory medications--didn't expect any major changes, nor does he predict any in the near future.

"There hasn't been much volatility out there," said Letco.

Missing from the new figures were fees for the newly created HCPCS codes for compounded inhalants, despite the codes taking effect last month. It's a just a matter of time before providers decide they can't absorb the possible financial risk of not knowing what Medicare will pay for compounded drugs, say some.

"Without some news fairly quickly, you could see a lot of compounding drying up this year," said Letson. "We are telling our people not to change anything at this point."