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Pharmacists and Trial Lawyers Square Off Against PBMs

Published Online: Monday, December 1, 2003   [ Request Print ]

    Lawyers for independent pharmacies in Alabama and Georgia are seeking to bring class-action lawsuits against the nation's top pharmacy benefits management (PBM) companies - a move that has already triggered a panicky response from PBM industry Washington lobbyists. The suits allege that Medco Health Solutions, Caremark Rx, AdvancePCS, and Express Scripts have engaged in illegal and abusive business practices against community pharmacies.

    "The PBMs envision a world where there are no pharmacies, just their 800 number to order prescriptions filled by unnamed technicians," lead counsel Archie Lamb said after filing suit against the 4 firms in a federal court in Alabama. "To get there, the PBMs have demonstrated a willingness to participate in illegal and deceptive practices."

    Representatives of the PBMs in Washington have already fired back, calling the litigation "frivolous." In a statement denouncing the legal challenges against PBMs, officials at the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association charged that "the retail pharmacy lobby has been joined in their crusade for higher drug prices by the trial bar"?an alliance that "serves only to underscore the hollowness of their arguments."

    Arguing that "policymakers in Washington and the states have all recognized that PBMs are essential to holding down drug costs and expanding consumers' access to affordable medicines," PCMA officials accused the lawyers of being motivated by greed. "These lawsuits serve only to enrich the trial lawyers and do nothing to expand consumers' access to affordable medicines," they fumed.

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