Alexandria, Va. - Sept. 29, 2010
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) expressed strong support for an investigation into CVS Caremark launched by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging reported earlier today on the blog Pharmalot.
In response, NCPA President Joseph H. Harmison, PD and Arlington, Texas pharmacy owner, issued the following statement:
"Complaints continue to increase from patients and community pharmacists alleging CVS Caremark of engaging in anti-consumer, anti-competitive behavior. We commend Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) for doing the right thing on behalf of patients and pharmacists in Wisconsin and across the nation. Seniors are both the most in need of pharmacy services and the patients arguably most vulnerable to the misleading and deceptive tactics of which CVS Caremark is accused.
"CVS Caremark's strong-armed efforts to gain market share appear to be compromising patient care while inflating costs for seniors, the Medicare program and taxpayers. For example, retirees Max and Jan Hauser discovered that, under their Medicare drug plan administered by CVS Caremark, the cholesterol drug Simvastatin that cost them nothing at a local independent pharmacy cost them $165.99 at CVS for a three-month supply. As reported by WCNC-TV they were also charged more by CVS for ulcer drugs and blood pressure medicine. The combined higher costs charged by CVS pushed the fixed-income couple into their plan's coverage gap (or 'donut hole') sooner, significantly increasing their out-of-pocket drug costs.
"In addition, seniors who prefer the face to face service and counseling of their independent community pharmacist are forced by CVS Caremark to switch to its mail order or to travel greater distances to the nearest CVS location. In the newly released J.D. Power and Associates 2010 National Pharmacy Study, patients rated CVS Caremark retail and mail order pharmacies significantly lower than its rivals in customer satisfaction.
"The Senate committee joins a long and growing list of investigations into anti-consumer, anti-competitive allegations against CVS Caremark. The Federal Trade Commission is in the midst of a non-public investigation involving both its Bureaus of Competition and Consumer Protection and with the support of dozens of members of Congress. In addition, approximately 24 states are pursuing their own investigations. Community pharmacists and their patients are looking for comprehensive relief from the FTC and other regulators to stop any anti-competitive and deceptive practices by CVS Caremark."
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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