Inside This Issue - News
PCMA ad targets pharmacies
May 21st, 2012
WASHINGTON – The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) has gone on the offensive against community pharmacies, running an advertisement here earlier this month that accuses drug stores of overcharging patients.
Titled “It’s the Drugstore Lobby vs. Employers,” the print ad ran in Washington, D.C., publications at the same time that more than 250 independent pharmacists were lobbying lawmakers to support legislation favorable to the industry, including the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011, a bill designed to ensure transparency and proper operation of pharmacy benefits managers.
The lobbying effort was part of the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA’s) annual legislative conference.
PCMA, the trade association representing the nation’s PBMs, says its ad defends the rights of employers, unions and government programs to reduce what it sees as wasteful pharmacy spending.
According to PCMA, a recent poll of owners and human resources managers of small businesses with 100 or fewer employees found that these businesses want access to plans that exclude expensive drug stores from their networks.
“Employers know what mega-chain Walgreens and its ‘independent’ drug store surrogates want,” the PCMA ad says. “And they don’t like it.”
PCMA executives say that forcing patients to pay more for their prescriptions has an impact that goes beyond the pharmacy.
“This agenda is promoted by local drug stores, but it raises costs for every other business in town and mostly benefits Walgreens — a $70 billion company that doesn’t need the help,” states president and chief executive officer Mark Merritt.
A Walgreens spokesman says he feels that the chain is being singled out because of its recent refusal to renew its contract with Express Scripts Inc. after the PBM refused to offer reimbursement rates that Walgreens could accept.
Meanwhile, NCPA advertisements that ran during its legislative conference countered many of the claims in the PCMA advertisements.
The pharmacy group’s two print ads made the case for how legislation supported by NCPA and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores would help community pharmacies reduce costs and improve health outcomes and why NCPA feels it is essential to reform the PBM industry in the wake of the merger of Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions Inc. A separate, online ad urged readers to join community pharmacists to reform PBMs.