NCPA Blasts Irresponsible Ad by PBM Lobby as an Affront to Fighting Drug Diversion, Pharmacy Crime

Share |

Alexandria, Va. - March 1, 2012

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) criticized a new advertising campaign launched today by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the trade group representing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

"This divisive and deceptive ad marks a new low," said NCPA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs John Coster, RPh, PhD. "It's like the pot calling the kettle black. PBM mail order outlets push huge quantities of controlled substances out the door each and every day to patients they don't know—many of whom don't need them or order them—and get delivered to unsecure mail boxes. In fact, mail order was prominently mentioned as a problem by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway during his testimony before Congress today.

"Community pharmacies typically know their patients and their doctors—something the PBMs can't say—which helps reduce diversion and abuse. At a time when Congress, federal and local law enforcement, and the entire pharmaceutical supply chain should be working together to address the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse and pharmacy crime, this irresponsible ad embodies the type of finger-pointing and passing-the-buck that will only undermine legitimate and comprehensive solutions."

Joseph H. Harmison, RPh, a pharmacy owner in Grand Prairie, Texas, testified on behalf of NCPA at a hearing today of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing on "Prescription Drug Diversion: Combating the Scourge". Mr. Harmison noted in his testimony that his pharmacy has been robbed three times and that "everyone needs to be involved" in implementing solutions.

Recent developments reinforce that PBMs can play a more positive role. For example, earlier today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report faulting one major PBM, CVS Caremark, which "did not have adequate controls" to prevent refills and unallowable partial fills in the Medicare Part D program of controlled substances that are at high risk for abuse by patients. OIG concluded by recommending that CVS Caremark "strengthen its controls," maintain more accurate records and issue additional guidance to its pharmacies.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has suggested that Medicare Part D plan sponsors and their contracted PBMs could do more. In conjunction with PBMs, CMS said plan sponsors "have the ability to substantially improve patient safety by reducing the incidence of inappropriate overutilization" and noted that "many sponsors are not currently applying tools, such as quantity limits and safety edits as effectively as they could be." CMS added that steps could also be taken to identify "patterns which suggest that the identified patients may be at risk of overutilization, so that these cases may be further analyzed clinically for possible fraud, waste and abuse across all sponsors' formulary medications, including opioids."

NCPA encourages community pharmacists to commit themselves to supporting national and local efforts to prevent the misuse and abuse of both prescription and non-prescription medications. The association provides resources to pharmacists to do so via its Protect Your Pharmacy Now! anti-crime initiative and Dispose My Meds programs to encourage proper disposal of unwanted non-controlled prescriptions. The association has also created a Prevent Prescription Abuse homepage,, providing resources, tools and educational materials for pharmacists and patients as part of its partnership in programs such as Safeguard My Meds, Rx Safety Matters and Generation Rx.

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 a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at

Ask Your Family Pharmacist TM