NCPA Statement on CVS Caremark-Aetna Agreement

Alexandria, Va. - July 29, 2010

 

In response to the agreement announced that CVS Caremark would provide pharmacy benefits to all 9.7 million lives covered by insurance giant Aetna, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) issued the following statement from Arlington, Texas pharmacy owner and NCPA President Joseph H. Harmison, PD: 

"When it comes to putting its profits before patients, CVS Caremark is quite simply in a league of its own. In seeking Federal Trade Commission approval of the merger of retail giant CVS with the major pharmacy benefit manager Caremark, CVS Caremark pledged to be agnostic as to where patients filled their prescriptions. That pledge has rung hollow as patients and local pharmacists complain of greater and greater pressure—or outright mandates—to switch prescriptions to CVS stores or Caremark mail order. 

"Two criticisms lodged against CVS Caremark since the merger would appear to be particularly relevant to the Aetna agreement. First, the utilization of sensitive, private medical information for crass, marketing pitches. Second, the imposition of the ironically named 'Maintenance Choice' program, which can force patients to endure unreasonable requirements for their prescription medication, such as significant waits for mail order or long trips to the nearest CVS. Both problems have the potential to plague additional patients as a result of this agreement. 

"The cries of protest against compromised care and unreasonable restrictions on patient choice are likely to only grow louder and more frequent with this agreement. Regrettably, Aetna customers and patients can anticipate a barrage of misleading sales pitches and complex schemes intended to camouflage CVS Caremark's history of over-promising and under-delivering on pharmacy savings. 

"The U.S. Federal Trade Commission's competition and privacy bureaus and at least 24 states and municipalities are investigating CVS Caremark regarding the many anticompetitive, anti-consumer complaints raised by patients, Members of Congress and independent community pharmacists. NCPA will continue to work to support these and other investigations in the hopes the regulators will see the need to implement meaningful changes to protect the patient's choice of pharmacy and to restore meaningful pharmacy competition."

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% 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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