Sean Dickson, a drug policy expert who has published frequently cited research on the 340B program and advised both health care providers and drug manufacturers on 340B compliance, has gone to work for the health insurance industry.
Dickson, most recently Director, Health Policy at nonprofit health care think tank West Health, is now Senior Vice President, Pharmaceutical Policy and Strategy at America’s Health Insurance Plans, according to Dickson’s LinkedIn page. AHIP represents about 1,300 U.S. health insurance companies. Dickson’s last day at West Health was March 7.
In 340B circles, Dickson is perhaps best known for a July 2019 study in JAMA Network Open that found that, counterintuitively, net revenues for three expensive hepatitis C treatments increased by 28% after manufacturers reduced list prices for the treatments in 2016. The study found that when shares of a product’s sales subject to 340B discounts are high (30% to 40% in the HCV market), it can be more advantageous for a manufacturer to lower list price and thereby reduce exposure both to 340B discounts owed to providers and rebates owed to pharmacy benefit managers.
In a September 2020 study in JAMA Network Open, Dickson that found that increases in the percentage of drug sales subject to inflation penalties in the 340B program were associated with lower drug price increases. “The takeaway? Inflation penalties work,” Dickson said in a tweet about his findings.
In 2018, Dickson and co-authors wrote in Health Affairs that, based on 2015 data, the 340B program reduced manufacturer revenues by 1.9%. The federal government reported that 340B sales in 2015 were $12 billion. Last year, the government said that 340B sales in 2021 were $43 billion.
In one of this last acts at West Health, Dickson early this month suggested on Twitter that Lilly cut the price of its best-selling insulin Humalog by 70% mainly to avoid exposure to enhanced inflation penalties in the Medicaid drug rebate program.
Earlier in his career, Dickson led drug spending research for The Pew Charitable Trust, managed 340B pricing matters for the National Alliance for State & Territorial AIDS Directors, and developed regulatory comments on 340B for drug manufacturers as an associate at the law firm Sidley Austin.