Letter to the editor: Level the prescription drug playing field
In today’s economy, Connecticut cannot afford to be sending good jobs and revenues out of our state.
Local independent pharmacies face many challenges in today’s economy, the largest of which is the loss of customers who are forced by their insurance companies to obtain their medications through the mail. For the most part, these customers do not want to switch to mail order. They are forced to do so by their out-of-state Prescription Benefit Managers (PBMs) who charge them substantially higher co-pays for prescriptions obtained from local pharmacies.
Independent pharmacies are at the mercy of these PBMs. Ninety-five percent of our business is processed through them, and we are required to sign their contracts in order to do business with them. Each and every PBM contract has a clause forbidding the pharmacy from waiving any portion of the copay for a prescription. The PBM then competes directly and unfairly with us by charging our customers less for using mail order. Were it not for this PBM requirement, the pharmacy would have to option of lowering its price and matching the PBM in order to retain a good customer.
Presently, there is a bill before the Connecticut Legislature, SB 13 – An Act Concerning Copayments for Drugs, which would level the playing field by forbidding PBMs from forcing pharmacies to charge higher copays than the PBM charges for mail order prescriptions. The PBMs are lobbying heavily against this bill, claiming that it would force them to raise their prices and cost customers more for their prescriptions, when in reality it would simply allow small pharmacies to lower copays and compete with them on a level playing field.
None of the three largest PBMs, CVS/Caremark, Medco, and Express Scripts, have a business presence in Connecticut. Every prescription filled through their mail order service results in revenues and jobs going out of our state. We urge our legislators to support and pass this bill and I ask your readers to contact their representatives in support of SB 13 – An Act Concerning Copayments for Drugs.
Marion E. Bradley, RpH
Robert M. Bradley
Beacon Falls Pharmacy