Preserve Community Pharmacy NOW: Wisconsin business owners, pharmacists, and consumers fight to stop Express Scripts/Medco Merger

Contact: Scott Tyre

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Local Members Of The Preserve Community Pharmacy NOW! Coalition Traveled To Washington To Stop Merger They Say Will Lead To Higher Prices For Lower Quality Health Care

WI– Just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will convene a hearing to investigate the proposed merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc, local members of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) coalition traveled to Washington, D.C. today, where they met with members of the state delegation and asked for help in stopping the $29 billion mega-PBM deal.

The local delegation expressed concerns that an approved merger would combine two of the nation’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), giving the consolidated mega-PBM the unfettered ability to increase prices and reduce access to pharmacy services. There is widespread concern from elected officials including attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient advocates and others. All have expressed concerns that approving this merger would result in increased costs for lesser quality health care.

“Approving this merger would give the consolidated PBM the unchecked ability to steer consumers away from community pharmacies until, eventually, they no longer have a choice,” said Eva M. Clayton, chair of Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN). “In many areas, pharmacists are the most accessible health care professional, providing important services at affordable prices and at convenient times and locations. Fazing them out of the health care system wouldn’t just be inconvenient; it would be disastrous – particularly for those in underserved communities. We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen and oppose the merger between Express Scripts Inc and Medco Health Solutions.”

PBMs are the largely unregulated drug middlemen that manage prescription drug benefit programs for employers, unions, health plans and others. Today, PBMs control the drug benefits of more than 200 million patients nationwide. This number includes a diverse group of Americans such as Medicare Part D beneficiaries, servicemen and veterans who are TRICARE beneficiaries, and more.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with our state Delegation in Washington about this issue that greatly impacts consumers in Wisconsin and across the Country,” Joe Wineke said. “Local pharmacies are a critical part of the health care system and taking them away would be a real problem for a lot of people. Not to mention, health care costs are already high and any policy that would lead to additional increases should be seriously reconsidered. I hope that we can count on Senator Kohl to oppose this merger.”

Last July, Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc, two of the nation’s largest PBMs, announced a merger agreement that could go into effect as soon as early 2012. The merger has been investigated by a House antitrust committee and will be investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights in December. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will ultimately determine whether or not the deal will move forward.

Wisconsin PCPAN members hope that Members of Congress will stand up for patient care and oppose the merger.

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Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! is a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists from across the country that have come together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. PCPAN is a project of Pharmacy Choice and Access Now.