NCPA Welcomes Multiple Investigations Into CVS Caremark's Business Practice at the Federal and State Levels

Alexandria, Va. - May 07, 2010

CVS Caremark recently disclosed that it is the target of investigations by 24 states as well as the District of Columbia and Los Angeles County, according to Dow Jones Newswires and other news outlets. In response, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) President Joe Harmison, PD and Arlington, Texas pharmacy owner, issued the following statement: 

"One year ago this month, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz and senior FTC staff graciously met with patients and 80 independent community pharmacists to hear first-hand accounts of the anti-consumer, anti-competitive effects of the merger of pharmacy chain CVS and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Caremark. In August, the FTC launched a formal investigation of the combined company and in April the FTC confirmed that both its competition and consumer protection offices were involved with the inquiry. Now, 24 states and two major municipalities are part of a sweeping, coast-to-coast scrutiny of CVS Caremark's practices. As the saying goes, usually where there's smoke, there's fire. 

"We appreciate this commitment at the federal, state and local levels to the public good. We're particularly grateful to the two dozen members of Congress who have helped raise awareness about these problems. NCPA will continue working to educate public officials about CVS Caremark's detrimental impact on patients and the practice of pharmacy. Next week, hundreds of community pharmacists will convene in Washington to deliver that message in the halls of Congress and elsewhere. 

"When it comes to CVS Caremark, the need for both more consumer protection and a level playing field for community pharmacies is at least as clear today as it was 12 months ago. Patients continue to be cut off from their longtime, local pharmacists and forced to travel long distances to a CVS or to wait for delayed mail delivery shipments. The inflexible and ironically named 'Maintenance Choice' program has only exacerbated these problems, while some patients say the promised savings are illusory. Patient medical information held by the PBM appears to be used to increase CVS stores' market share—a far cry from the company's pre-merger pledge to be ‘agnostic as to where the consumer fills their prescription.' Pharmacist small business owners complain of abusive, punitive auditing practices by CVS Caremark designed to eliminate the competition. 

"As the FTC and other public investigations move forward, NCPA is hopeful that they will produce meaningful competition among pharmacies and relief for patients.” 

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.

Ask Your Family Pharmacist TM