More than 50 consumers, small business owners and community pharmacists with Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) Coalition gathered in Washington, D.C. on November 4 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.
Several Members of Congress attended the press conference to express their opposition to the merger.
“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) manage prescription drug benefit programs for employers, unions, health plans and others. 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.
"[Dr]ugstores are lobbying against the merger, arguing that the deal, in which Express Scripts would acquire Medco for $29 billion, would put drugstores out of business and lead to higher consumer prices," reports Cq.com.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing on the merger on September 20. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights plans to hold a hearing on the merger in December.