Guest Post from Eva Clayton, Chairperson of
Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN)
As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues its review of the proposed merger between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) Express Scripts, Inc. (ESI) and Medco Health Solutions, the two companies are busy trying to defend the $29 billion deal against claims that their combined company would result in decreased access to community pharmacies.
The companies may reject the concerns being raised repeatedly by elected officials including attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient groups and others – but their CEOs have a pattern of making cavalier comments that show they don’t value pharmacists and should raise serious concerns about the industry’s future.
Here’s how ESI and Medco really feel about pharmacists, in the words of their own CEOs:
“At the end of day, as I said earlier, NEXIUM is NEXIUM, LIPITOR is LIPITOR, drugs are drugs and it shouldn’t matter that much [who is] counting to 30.” – Express Scripts CEO George Paz (02/23/2012)*
“I can’t stop certain pharmacies from going out of business…” – Express Scripts CEO George Paz (12/06/2011)**
“I’m not dissing retail [pharmacy], but…there’s a fiction that a pharmacist comes out and dialogues with you … In reality, a high school student hands you a script from the shelf.” – Medco CEO David Snow (10/11/2011)***
“Medco’s ‘robots’ are ‘twenty-three times more accurate’ than human pharmacists, in terms of errors in dispensing prescriptions.” – Medco CEO David Snow (10/11/2011)****
Their words show how they really feel about community pharmacies, but their actions are worse. An approved merger between these companies would effectively devastate independent community pharmacies, forcing many to close their doors and cutting off access to millions of Americans.
For communities that do not lose their pharmacy, they still may lose their pharmacist. Considering both ESI and Medco own mail-order pharmacy companies, the combined entity would not only be motivated to drive customers away from community pharmacies and toward mail-order programs, it would have the power to do so.
ESI and Medco’s own CEOs have made it clear how little they value community pharmacists. Allowing these two companies to merge would make it harder for patients and consumers to access their pharmacist, and result in the loss of pharmacy jobs. These are things we can ill-afford.
*Express Scripts Q4 2011 Earnings Call Transcript, 02/23/12
**U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee On Antitrust, Competition Policy And Consumer Rights, Hearing On The Proposed Merger Between Express Scripts And Medco,
Washington, D.C., 12/6/11
***Ben Comer, “Medco CEO Champions Robots Over Pharmacists,” PharmExec Blog, 10/11/11
****Ben Comer, “Medco CEO Champions Robots Over Pharmacists,” PharmExec Blog, 10/11/11