NCPA Supports Bipartisan Bill to Preserve Community Pharmacies; Give Independents the Same Antitrust Exemption as Health Insurance Plans

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Alexandria, Va. - May 17, 2011

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today endorsed The Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2011 (H.R. 1839), legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). The bill would create a more competitive marketplace for the delivery of pharmacy services by enhancing the ability of independent community pharmacies to negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Specifically, H.R. 1839 would allow independent community pharmacies to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of insurance contracts to produce plan designs that better protect the patient's choice of pharmacy and are fairer to pharmacy providers.

In response to H.R. 1839, NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA issued the following statement:

"Patients rely on independent community pharmacists for expert medication and other cost-saving health services. This bipartisan legislation will help these local pharmacists and small business owners by doing two critical things. First, it levels the playing field for independent community pharmacies negotiating contracts with billion-dollar corporations. Second, it allows millions of Americans to enjoy the fruits of a more competitive marketplace and helps preserve their access to independent community pharmacies.

"For years, the major insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, have benefitted from an antitrust exemption and have opposed efforts to grant the same status to independent pharmacists. This dynamic produces one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts that can disadvantage community pharmacists with onerous contract terms while impeding true competition for consumers.

"What makes the pharmacy marketplace particularly inequitable is the fact that major PBMs both administer drug plans and operate mail order pharmacies. This inherent conflict of interest creates an even greater incentive for benefit managers to impose unfair audit and reimbursement practices.

"We strongly commend Rep. Weiner for introducing this bipartisan legislation and we urge his colleagues to support it. We appreciate those lawmakers who have already signed on as co-sponsors, including Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)."

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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