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Bad Behavior

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
The New York Times  reports, “After more than two years of investigation, CVS Caremark agreed on Thursday to pay $5 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that the company had misrepresented the price of certain prescription drugs in one of its Medicare drug plans, causing many older consumers to pay significantly higher prices than advertised. This settlement comes at a time of intensive government scrutiny of pharmacy benefit managers like CVS Caremark, which run prescription drug plans for employers and insurers. Currently, the F.T.C. is reviewing the proposed merger of the two main competitors to CVS Caremark: Medco Health and Express Scripts.”
 
What do you make of this announcement?  Is it evidence that PBM’s in general—and CVS Caremark in particular—are more interested in making money than helping consumers save money on their prescription purchases? Also, is this more evidence that the proposed merger of Medco and Express Script is not good for anyone but the companies? 
 
There is nothing wrong with making money from providing health care services, but taking advantage of people to do it is wrong. When market concentration occurs so that there are fewer players is this type of behavior more likely?  I think it might be. 
Blog Info
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times
Blog Description
This blog focuses on what our Editor-in-Chief sees as the future of pharmacy.
Author Bio
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, is the Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times, a position he has held since 2002. Mr. Eckel is a professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves as executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.

In this blog, Eckel will provide commentary on relevant issues impacting pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, including the merging of pharmacy benefit managers, the implications of health care reform, the conversion of major drugs from prescription to over-the-counter, trends in pharmacy careers, and opioid abuse. He will also discuss legislative issues that impact pharmacists, and comment on the evolving role of the pharmacist.
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