Alexandria, VA - June 09, 2010
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) submitted a statement for today's U.S. Senate's Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights oversight hearing on "Oversight of the Enforcement of Antitrust Laws". NCPA offered three recommendations for strengthening antitrust enforcement measures that would positively affect approximately 23,000 independent community pharmacies and the 118 million patients they serve by having the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):
Take enforcement action in response to allegations from independent community pharmacies and their patients against CVS Caremark, which since merging three years ago has repeatedly used confidential information to steer patients away from independent community pharmacies to their own retail or mail order pharmacies;
Encourage and support ongoing federal and state efforts to regulate the anti-competitive business practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that increase their profits at the expense of patients, pharmacies and plan sponsors; and
Revise the 1996 Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Guidelines to include pharmacist collaboration in emerging health care models that allow for reimbursement of services rendered without running afoul of antitrust rules.
"The rapidly-changing health care marketplace requires more vigilance and flexibility from the federal government, especially in areas that impact independent community pharmacies and their patients," said Joseph H. Harmison, PD, NCPA president and an Arlington, Texas pharmacy owner. "The FTC and DOJ should address the anti-competitive and anti-privacy practices of CVS Caremark by either erecting proper safeguards or dissolving the merger; provide meaningful regulation of the unaccountable PBM industry that thumbs its nose at conflicts of interest, manipulates prescription drug prices, and dictates onerous contract terms for pharmacies; and modify clearly outdated antitrust guidelines that hamstring pharmacists' ability to collaborate with other health care providers for the best possible patient care."
Harmison added, "Not only will these changes help patients have greater access to affordable, transparent, streamlined prescription drug services at independent community pharmacies, but they come at a critical time with the enactment of comprehensive health care reform legislation and the retirement of baby boomers that is causing Medicare to grow rapidly. The status quo is simply not sustainable, but if the FTC and DOJ act on these common-sense recommendations the future will be."
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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