Specialty Drug Cost Problem to Grow Worse under New Pharma-Merger

As submitted to USA TODAY

To the Editor:

Too often, pharmacists see patients struggle to pay for vitally needed prescription drugs ("Specialty drugs offer hope, but can carry big price tags," Aug. 22, 2011) and those struggles could grow more severe if a pharmaceutical mega-merger is approved.

Merging two giant pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), Express Scripts and Medco, would create a virtual monopoly of the specialty drug market. Together, the company would represent over 50 percent of this rapidly growing, ultra-expensive category.

Such a reduction in competition and choice would likely raise costs for patients and PBM clients, such as the government and employers. Plus, these major PBMs refuse to assume a “fiduciary duty” to put clients above maximizing profitability. Perhaps not coincidentally, to date they have paid $370 million to settle charges of fraud and deceptive practices.

B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA
Executive Vice President and CEO
National Community Pharmacists Association
Alexandria, VA

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