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PBM Atrocious Action of the Month: Destruction of Century-Old Small Businesses

Mar 27, 2023

Davis City Pharmacy was originally founded in 1892. Located about half an hour’s drive west of Ft. Worth in Weatherford, the founders of this Texas treasure surely never imagined a world in which 21st century robber barons would have it in for their little community pharmacy - and could possibly permanently close the doors of the 131-year-old small business.

At first, Brandi Chane, Davis City Pharmacy’s owner, couldn’t figure out where the losses were coming from. A nurse by trade, Brandi purchased Davis City Pharmacy with the goal of seamlessly continuing a time-honored tradition of care that the pharmacy’s patients had come to expect over generations.

“I cut every possible cost, looked at every line item until I concluded we couldn’t cut anymore. We’re one of only two pharmacies in town that still delivers, and I knew it wasn’t labor that was the problem,” she said.

The problem, she discovered, is what every other independent pharmacy throughout the U.S. has also experienced: below-acquisition cost reimbursements; patients steered away to big chains (guess who?); and exorbitant DIR fees despite being recognized by CMS as a 5-star pharmacy.

Pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) practices such as these force closures of independent pharmacies in communities like Weatherford, where people are neighborly and traditions are valued - practices that unceremoniously rip away generations of care and service to their populations. Unfortunately, under the current system, no healthcare small business is safe from PBM predatory practices, and no insured individual is immune from being "steered" away from their local pharmacy to big box chains like CVS and Walmart (or worse, forced mail order) in the name of corporate “cost savings” that never materialize for the patient or the end payer.

Davis City Pharmacy is receiving a special heritage award from the State of Texas (the Texas Treasure Business Award) later this spring - if they can keep their doors open that long. The fact that this more-than-a-century-old 5-star pharmacy is staring down the possibility of having to close up shop because of PBM anticompetitive, market domination tactics (despite Texas’ more stringent regulation on the subject) is unconscionable.

Unless something is done quickly to reverse these trends, stories like Davis City Pharmacy’s will become a commonplace norm. Cities and towns will be stripped of their historic small businesses. Patients will lose treasured healthcare providers - and a part of history in the heart of Texas will be lost forever.

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