Pharmacists Work with Congress to Address PBM Abuses

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 General News
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ACPCN Joins Congressional Leaders to Introduce Legislation

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Association of Community Pharmacists Congressional Network (ACPCN) will join congressional leaders tomorrow to introduce the "Patient Health & Real Medication Access Cost Savings Act." The bill by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) will reduce patient dependence on pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies for medications.

"Congress is prepared to clean up the waste in the pharmaceutical supply chain," according to Mike James, ACPCN vice president for government affairs and a practicing pharmacist. "Congressional leaders are finding out what the nation's business leaders already know--PBMs add very little value to the health care system, but they take a lot out of it."

Nearly 60 large employers that collectively spend $4.9 billion for prescription drugs have recently either dropped their PBMs or forced them to disclose their drug acquisition costs.

The bipartisan legislation is supported by key members of Congress who are looking for similar cost-cutting strategies and better options for patients who need prescription drugs. ACPCN worked with Congress to identify abusive PBM practices that are undermining the health care system and strategies by private sector employers to cut costs by forcing PBMs to change.

"Our health care system should emphasize quality of care and cost-cutting," stated Rep. Butterfield. "That means removing conditions in the supply chain that increase costs without improving outcomes."

The bill will reduce drug costs by preventing secret "spread pricing," where PBMs purchase drugs and pay pharmacies at one price, and then charge the government and insurers a higher price without disclosing the difference. It will also prevent patient "steering," where PBMs force patients to obtain medications through mail-only systems or pharmacies owned by the PBMs. Under the bill, pharmacies will also help government and insurers increase the use of lower-cost generic pharmaceuticals.

ACPCN prepared an overview for Congress and the media of secret practices and misleading statements the PBM industry uses to protect its franchises from congressional scrutiny. The overview may be obtained by contacting ACPCN.

"The PBM industry claims it provides better services at lower costs than local pharmacies, but it cannot prove it," James stated. "If Congress holds PBMs to the same standards of transparency and accountability that it imposes on every other provider, the drug delivery system will be transformed for patients and taxpayers."

SOURCE Association of Community Pharmacists Congressional Network


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