Hundreds of pharmacists in 40 states form new coalition to make drug prices more transparent
NEW YORK, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A national coalition of pharmacists and pharmacy owners today announced a public information campaign to expose the unjustifiably high prices of prescription drugs set by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), the unregulated, multibillion dollar industry that controls prescription health plans for more than 200 million Americans.
Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, a growing 600 member coalition spread across 40 states, was formed to protect benefit plan sponsors and enrollees from overpaying for prescription drugs. The need for greater awareness of PBM's roles in the American healthcare system grew stronger in July when Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions announced merger plans that would create the largest PBM in the nation.
PBMs manage prescription drug benefit programs for health-plan sponsors and enrollees. They negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and contract with sponsors to administer claims and handle the exchange of money. Their reach extends beyond the private sector. They manage benefits programs for Medicare participants, veterans, public employees and more.
"Pharmacists are in a unique position to compare actual prescription drug prices with the amount PBMs charge for the same lifesaving medications," said Dave Marley, a founding member of Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency. "Americans will demand swift and serious reforms when they see examples of their outrageous markups."
A recent press release from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a trade group funded by PBMs, claimed their industry "will save consumers and payers almost $2 trillion in prescription drug costs" over the next decade. Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency was created to debunk these statements by publicizing actual PBM price sheets and claims data. An example obtained by Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency last month shows the lack of transparency in one PBM contract led the plan sponsor to overpay for prescription benefits by nearly $2 million over a three year period.
Increased skepticism of PBMs is playing out across the nation in state and federal governments. Legislators in New York this summer passed a bill that bans mandatory mail order programs for prescription drugs. Similar legislation is being drafted in Pennsylvania. Nationally, a bipartisan group of 14 members of Congress stated in a letter to the FTC last week that an unregulated merger of Express Scripts and Medco would give the corporation "the ability to raise prices and/or block pass through pricing for plans and patients – ultimately limiting critical access." They called for a "full and thorough investigation" of the proposed deal, "including examining the impact the merger will have on consumers, patients, third party and federal payers."
"There is no part of the health care industry more egregious, harmful, or rife with corruption than PBMs," said David Balto, a prominent antitrust attorney and former Policy Director at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). "The fact that the profits of the major PBMs have increased by over 400 percent in the last five years is proof that our health care system isn't working."
Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency believes the merger would hinder patient choice and raise the potential for unregulated price hikes to an alarming new level. Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency has emerged as a leader in the growing movement to reign in on PBM price games. The organization has been featured in major trade publications such as "Pharmacy Times" and "Drug Topics" and received support from several prescription drug wholesalers, buying groups and other organizations focused on problems within the PBM industry. There are more than 20,000 pharmacists following Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency on the industry social networking website PharmacistsSociety.com.
Members of the media are urged to contact Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency for industry analysis and commentary, enterprise story ideas and specific examples of PBM price spreads. More information on the coalition and the lack of truth and transparency in the PBM industry is available on the group's website, TruthRx.org. Press inquiries should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Sam Goldsmith, +1-646-723-4344, email@example.com
SOURCE Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency