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Centene is shifting back to an external PBM. Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Centene will evaluate proposals from pharmacy benefits companies next year to manage the health insurer's drug spending, signaling a failure of the company's own approach to managing drug spending internally.

Why it matters: Centene spends $30 billion annually on prescription drugs, CFO Drew Asher told investors Tuesday, which will make this one of the largest and most highly sought-after drug contracts in the industry.

Centene's bid process will start next year, and a new PBM will take over by 2024, executives said on a conference call, adding that the move will result in "the greatest economic benefit."

Flashback: Centene fired its pharmacy benefit manager, CVS Caremark, in 2018 and shifted the drug purchasing functions to its own PBMs, RxAdvance and Envolve.

Driving the news: That move failed, and the company put itself in hot water.

The bottom line: Centene failed to manage drug spending in-house. Now its drug contract is "going to be a huge opportunity for an external PBM," Asher said.

Go deeper: Employers are tired of the same old PBM game

Go deeper

Democrats' historic compromise on prescription drug prices

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Democrats have agreed on a top-level deal that would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs. But moderates and pharma allies successfully took some of the bite out of the party's preferred approach.

Why it matters: If the deal ultimately becomes law, Democrats will be able to claim victory on what's been a major priority for years, and many Americans struggling to afford their medication would receive relief.

Nov 3, 2021 - Health

The glaring hole in Democrats' drug pricing outline

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shaking Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) hand during a press conference in September 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

One glaring hole in Democrats' drug pricing outline: It says that drug companies that refuse to negotiate with Medicare will be subject to an excise tax. But they don't say what that tax will be.

Why it matters: If the penalty for refusing to negotiate isn't large enough, drugmakers simply won't comply, undermining the entire concept.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Trump social media group raises $1 billion from undisclosed investors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Donald Trump's social media startup on Saturday announced that it secured $1 billion in new investment as part of its ongoing efforts to become publicly traded via a blank check company.

Between the lines: None of the investors were identified, which is highly unusual for this sort of transaction.