With this week's news that the U.S. Department of Justice has given Cigna and Express Scripts the go-ahead to merge, it's worth revisiting - and re-stating - the obvious: PUTT opposes the CVS-Aetna merger.
PUTT also opposes Cigna-Express Scripts and any other "mega mergers" that result in one less choice for consumers; one more layer of bureaucracy for patients who find themselves "lost" or treated like a number in corporate healthcare; and one more headache for pharmacies trying to care for patients AND keep the doors open for business.
PUTT issued the following statement on December 7, 2017 just after CVS announced its intent to buy Aetna:
We are Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency (PUTT), a growing coalition of U.S. independent pharmacy owners. We have seen and experienced first-hand the damage caused by big business Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), the 3 largest of whom command nearly 80 percent of the drug benefits management market.
We stand against the merger between CVS Health and Aetna, as the joining of these two corporations will further undermine the ability of healthcare providers and patients to act in the best interest of the patient. Under the current care management system, in which multi-billion dollar Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) companies act as the intermediary choosing the availability, brand and price of medications, patients have lost much of the right to make their own choices in the matter of their own health. To date there is no evidence this system has benefitted anyone but the PBMs and their shareholders.
PBMs portray themselves as helpful, cost-savings third-party administrators. In fact they are industry middlemen profiting at every stage of the prescription drug supply chain from the manufacturers and the dispensers to the plan payers and patient. PBMs engage in questionable, non-transparent activities that can best be described as anti-competitive and designed to threaten, bully, intimidate, dismiss and push around the patient, the insurance payer, the manufacturer and the pharmacy - while simultaneously profiting off of each. This is why PBMs are a multi-billion dollar industry.
On behalf of everyone who depends on a fair, working healthcare system, we urge the Federal Trade Commission to dial back the power PBMs currently exploit and abuse. To do so would be to create a system in which there is room for accountability, transparency and equity for all participants.
PUTT will continue to speak out against the merger and encourages our members to continue to do so too. We will bring news and updates of how our fellow pharmacy associations are taking action to make their opposition known and encourage you to communicate with us about anti-merger activity in your state and at your local association.