Alexandria, Va. - Nov. 2, 2012
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) served formal declarations from its CEO and over 800 of its members, registering strong opposition to the proposed settlement of a landmark lawsuit filed against Visa, MasterCard and several large banks alleging anticompetitive practices in setting exorbitant interchange or "swipe fees" on merchants and consumers. NCPA's arguments were part of a larger filing served late yesterday in the action pending in U.S District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of a diverse coalition of retailers in opposition to the settlement, which is under review by a federal judge.
"NCPA joined this lawsuit to achieve meaningful, long-term reforms to the current swipe fee system," NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA said in his declaration to the court. "This proposed settlement came woefully short by not imposing necessary fundamental changes to the structure of the industry and the rules affecting merchants, particularly small business community pharmacies."
Hoey added that the proposal hamstrings merchants' ability to incentivize consumers to use alternative, lower-cost methods of payment; waives the rights of merchants to take any future legal action against the credit card companies; and fails to restrain the credit card companies from imposing significantly higher fees for years to come, effectively wiping out the monetary component of the settlement.
Independent pharmacies have paid millions of dollars in credit and debit card interchange fees since 2004. Payment card transactions represent as much as $1 million per independent pharmacy in sales volume.
In addition to NCPA, named class plaintiffs opposing the proposed settlement of the case, which is known as "In Re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation," include Affiliated Foods Midwest, Coborn's, Inc., D'Agostino Supermarkets, Jetro Holdings LLC, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), NATSO, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), National Grocers Association (NGA), and National Restaurant Association (NRA).
Oral arguments on preliminary approval before the court are scheduled for November 9.
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. Together they represent an $88.5 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40 percent of all retail prescriptions, and employ 300,000 people, including over 62,000 pharmacists. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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