Backbiting Intensifies Between PBMs and Community Pharmacy

Published Online: Wednesday, October 1, 2003

    The bad blood between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and community pharmacy groups reached the boiling point when lobbyists for the PBM industry bankrolled advertisements accusing retail pharmacists of ?pushing an agenda of new regulations and higher fees that could add billions to the cost of prescription drugs.? The ads, paid for by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), said that ?PBM pharmacists are different? because they work for companies that cooperate ?with employers, health plans, and others to drive down the costs of drugs?sometimes by more than 50%.?

    Titled ?Two Pharmacists,? the ads suggest that, unlike community pharmacists, ?PBM pharmacists have a proven record of helping more people get the drugs they need at a price they can afford.? Representatives of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) called the PCMA ads ?incredulous? and countered that PBM pharmacists have little if any political clout.

    ?We certainly know that the few actual PBM pharmacists are licensed to practice in only a handful of congressional districts,? an NCPA official said. The group also accused PCMA of hypocrisy, noting that in the ?Two Pharmacists? ad PBMs claim to be practicing pharmacy, ?yet they tell state legislators that there is no need to regulate PBMs because they don?t practice pharmacy.?

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