With a combined share of almost 60 percent, the proposed merger's effect on the mail-order segment would also be significant. When compared with local pharmacies, PBM-owned mail-order facilities consistently dispense fewer lower-cost generic drugs and more brand-name medicines, thus driving up overall health care expenses. PBM strong-arm tactics to push their mail-order business will only get worse if Express Scripts and Medco are allowed to merge.
Community pharmacists play a vital role in improving patient health and lowering overall health care costs. We are the most accessible health care providers available and serve as a valuable resource to patients seeking medical advice regarding prescription drug usage.
At the same time, independent pharmacies have no leverage with which to negotiate contracts with PBMs that support a level playing field and the patient's right to choose a pharmacy. That dynamic would grow worse under this deal, and consumer choice would suffer, simply to line the pockets of Express Scripts-Medco's shareholders.
For all of the aforementioned reasons, Members of Congress have been weighing in on a bipartisan basis. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Don Young (R-Alaska) have all voiced questions about this merger.
The Express Scripts-Medco merger should be blocked by the FTC. This proposed transaction will limit patient choice, raise drug costs and harm local pharmacies and the jobs they bring to communities nationwide.
B. Douglas Hoey is executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association.