Medco Health Solutions, one of thenation's largest pharmacy benefit managers(PBMs), has refused to complywith a federal subpoena from theDepartment of Health and Human Services(HHS) Office of Inspector General(OIG) seeking information on thecompany's business practices.
The department's investigation intosuspected antikickback law violationsby the company parallels a separate USJustice Department lawsuit allegingthat Medco defrauded the government.Medco has refused to providethe information called for in the subpoenaunless HHS agrees not to share itwith the Justice Department.
Critics of the PBMs are calling Medco'sreluctance to provide informationto the OIG part of a larger pattern ofsecretive behavior by PBMs.
"Medco's refusal to cooperate withthe OIG is just another example ofhow the PBM industry chooses to operatebehind a veil of secrecy—secrecythat drives up the cost and lowers thequality of health care for millions ofpatients across the nation," said BruceRoberts, RPh, executive vice presidentand chief executive officer of theNational Community PharmacistsAssociation (NCPA).
NCPA is citing Medco's actions asfurther evidence of the need for the"Community Pharmacy Fairness Act" —legislation recently introduced in theCongress by Reps Jerry Moran (R, Kan)and Anthony Weiner (D, NY) to allowindependent community pharmaciststo collectively negotiate the terms oftheir third-party (PBM) contracts, withoutfear of violating antitrust statutes.
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.