"Super PBM" Would Harm Community Pharmacies, Patients
CAMP HILL, Pa., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Citing concerns about the potentially devastating impact on community pharmacies and patient care, the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council (PPC) announced today that it opposes a planned merger between two large pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies, Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts (ESI).
"Community pharmacists are accessible health providers that patients see regularly for medications and for personalized counseling. They work in concert with other health professionals to ensure that patients receive the services they need to prevent illness or to get well. But the proposed Medco/ESI merger could bring an end to community-based pharmacies and the convenient services provided there," said Randy St. John, PPC Senior Vice President.
Health plans hire PBMs to reduce prescription costs by negotiating directly with pharmacies and drug manufacturers. A Medco/ESI merger would unite two of the nation's largest three PBMs, which would give them control over the prescription drug benefits of an estimated 135 million Americans. This concentrated market share would give them unprecedented power to set both the terms by which patients obtain medications and the drug costs and reimbursement fees for community pharmacies. PBMs are increasingly referring patients to their own mail-order pharmacy companies, sometimes mandating it. The increased market share will give them the power to drive out competition to their mail-order businesses from community pharmacies.
St. John pointed out that the PPC is at the forefront of recent changes in pharmacy care that make health services more accessible to more people. The PPC represents pharmacists conveniently located in supermarkets, where consumers can be reached easily with health information and services while they shop. Conveniently locating immunization services in the local supermarket rather than requiring a doctor's visit, for example, can result in higher penetration rates for the flu vaccine. These services are directly threatened by the PBM merger.
"One of the most successful innovations in pharmacy care has been the trend to meet people where they are. We make pharmacy care easy for consumers to access, and for many, we are their preferred source of care. A Medco/ESI merger would take away that choice," said St. John.
The Federal Trade Commission is examining issues related to the merger. The PPC urges anyone concerned about losing access to convenient pharmacy services to visit www.preservingcommunitypharmacy.com to learn more, and to write to their Members of Congress.
The PPC is a partner council of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, a statewide trade association representing more than 1,100 retail food stores, and represents the legislative and regulatory interests of in-supermarket pharmacies.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council