More benefits managers are moving to limit coverage of compounded pharmaceuticals, in part due to concerns about increasing costs and some instances of recalled compounded drugs. The industry is responding in a variety of ways to try to reassure skeptics that compounding should be viewed as part of the conventional therapeutic system. Now, a small group of compounding pharmacies has launched a network that, they say, will hold its members to the highest of standards and will work with benefits managers to allay their concerns.

United Compounding Network was created "as a limited closed network of leading compounding pharmacies … to deliver a solution to the marketplace built on quality, transparency and best practices," the network said in a release. "UCN and its charter member compounding pharmacies are committed to working with PBMs, health plans and employers to establish a new standard and approach for how this benefit is managed." 

Network members acknowledged that the group was formed in part to address "numerous factors" that were adversely affecting the industry. For instance, last year, the pharmacy benefits management division of UnitedHealth Group decided to end coverage for a range of chemicals used in many compounded products. And this year, the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts, ceased coverage for about 1,000 compounding ingredients, citing rising costs.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.