WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 50 consumers, small business owners and community pharmacists with Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) gathered in Washington, D.C. today to urge Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to support patient care and oppose the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc, two of the nation's largest pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies. Following the press conference, which featured remarks by Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Thomas Marino (R-PA), they met with elected representatives on Capitol Hill.
The coalition expressed concerns that the new mega-PBM would control much of the supply line of brand-name and generic drugs, especially in markets where the PBMs are already highly concentrated. The merger would hurt health care quality, compromise safety and limit access to community pharmacies, while driving drug prices through the roof. It would also result in decreased access to local community pharmacies that provide convenient and helpful services.
"If allowed to go forward, this merger would have devastating effects on consumers and small businesses, alike," said Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT). "In an industry that already offers few choices, further market concentration would squeeze out the community pharmacies many of us have come to trust the most."
"Right now, there is not a level playing field which is why I feel we need to act now," said Congressman Thomas Marino (R-PA). "I supported community pharmacies when I sponsored a bill that sets out to level that playing field – and that would not cost the federal government or anyone else a penny. As a matter of fact, it would actually lower the prices for independent pharmacies and they, in turn, would pass it on to the consumer. I continue to support community pharmacies now."
Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are the largely unregulated drug middlemen that manage prescription drug benefit programs for employers, unions, health plans and others. Today, PBMs control the drug benefits of more than 200 million patients nationwide. This number includes a diverse group of Americans such as Medicare Part D beneficiaries, servicemen and veterans that are TRICARE beneficiaries, and more.
"There is a reason that this merger has drawn criticism from a diverse set of voices throughout the country," said former Congresswoman Eva M. Clayton, chairwoman of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) coalition. "If Express Scripts is allowed to merge with Medco, it is American consumers – particularly those in lower-income and minority communities – who will ultimately pay the price in the form of higher costs for lesser quality care. I hope that Congress and the administration will stand up for American patients and oppose the merger."
Last July, Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc, two of the nation's largest PBMs, announced a merger agreement that could go into effect as soon as early 2012. Questions about the proposed merger have been raised by elected officials, attorneys general of dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates and patient advocacy groups. The merger is currently being reviewed by Congress and the FTC.
Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! is a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists from across the country that have come together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. PCPAN is a project of Pharmacy Choice and Access Now.
SOURCE Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN)