Blogs: The Reinvented Pharmacist

Merger of ESI and Medco

Published Online: Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I was on vacation a few weeks ago when I awoke to the headlines announcing the Express Scripts, Inc-Medco Health Solutions proposed merger. The reaction from the pharmacy profession against the merger has been loud and apparently unified. NASPA, NCPA, and NACDS released a letter that can be used to communicate to the FTC opposition to the merger along with talking points against the merger.

Why is the merger happening? A story in the North Carolina newspapers announced that NC Blue Cross was terminating their PBM contract with Medco and that Medco was losing market share. Maybe that is why they are willing to entertain a merger discussion. Adam Fein, PhD, of Drug Channels has been the one blogger who seems to favor the merger and thinks it will eventually receive FTC approval.

I don’t know if this is really good for consumers and if it will keep their prescription drug costs down, as Adam Fein believes, or that in the end community pharmacy will really be hurt financially, as the pharmacy community believes—but what does seem apparent is that the distribution of prescription drugs has become a commodity business in almost everybody’s eyes, except the community pharmacist. Four dollar generics, 15-minute filling guarantee, coupons to switch prescription filling sites (all activities promoted by some community pharmacy groups) have helped to fuel the impression that prescription drug dispensing is just a commodity activity.

Maybe pharmacists, instead of complaining to the FTC, should think about changing their practice model to focus on managing drug therapy outcomes instead. Am I thinking wrong?
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times
Blog Info
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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