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Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council opposes PBM merger
November 28th, 2011
CAMP HILL, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council (PPC) has declared its opposition to the planned merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions.
A trade group representing supermarket pharmacies, the PPC said the PBM merger deal, announced this summer, could have a "potentially devastating impact" on community pharmacies and patient care.
"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," stated Randy St. John, senior vice president at the PPC, a partner council of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association. "But the proposed Medco/Express Scripts merger could bring an end to community-based pharmacies and the convenient services provided there."
The PPC noted that the union of Express Scripts and Medco, which is currently being examined by the Federal Trade Commission, would create the nation's largest PBM, with 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," the council stated. "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.
Combination food/drug stores provide convenient access to pharmacy services through their neighborhood locations and ability to allow people to be within easy reach of health care services and information while they shop for groceries, St. John explained. For example, access to immunizations at the local supermarket rather than via a doctor's office visit can spur flu vaccination rates, yet the PPC said such 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," commented St. John.