PBM buys into home infusion

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – OptumRx’s recent purchase of home infusion services provider AxelaCare Health Solutions gives the pharmacy benefit manager a platform for a more integrated model, say analysts.

“OptumRx already has a specialty component and this gives them the infusion component, as well,” said Reg Blackburn, managing director of specialty pharmacy and infusion services for The Braff Group.

OptumRx is part of healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group. Other buys by the company this year include the July acquisition of Catamaran, another PBM; and the April acquisition of MedExpress, which operates walk-in clinics primarily in the Eastern United States.

AxelaCare was acquired by New York-based private equity firm Harvest Partners in 2013 and subsequently entered into a period of growth with several acquisitions, starting with SCP Specialty Infusion in November of that year. That deal doubled its number of pharmacies.

Today, AxelaCare serves patients in 44 states, offering both chronic long-term therapy like IVIg, and acute infusion therapies, including antibiotics and parenteral nutrition.

“AxelaCare has built a nice conglomeration of infusion pharmacies around the country,” said Jonathan Sadock, managing partner/CEO of Paragon Ventures. “They are good people and I think you are going to see them continue to do great things.”

One of those “great things” is CareExchange, a real-time electronic patient outcomes assessment solution, which captures patient-specific data in real time, according to a press release.

As to whether OptumRx will look to make other, sizable buys, analysts say their best guess is that won’t happen anytime soon—if at all.

“They will need to digest this for a period of time,” said Justin Ishbia, founder and managing partner of Shore Capital Partners, a private equity firm that used to own SCP Specialty Infusion. “I am also guessing that other large players they are interested in would also be in the markets they are already in.”