Independent pharmacies being driven out of business by ‘predatory middlemen’ | Opinion

South Florida Sun Sentinel

October 21, 2019

Lately, everywhere you look there are people worried about keeping drug prices affordable, especially for Florida’s aging seniors. People are voicing their concerns, but many are ignoring one of the biggest factors contributing to reduced access and increased costs — and sometimes driving people like me out of business.

Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs, have been abusing their power for years, remaining undetected as they drive independent pharmacies into the ground. These predatory middlemen no longer serve their original purpose of negotiating medication savings for patients. Instead, they use their corporate clout to force patients to certain pharmacy chains. This drives up costs for everyone while the PBMs pocket profits.

This national issue is affecting millions across the country. Though the problem is widespread, its roots are felt locally. By serving as go-betweens, PBMs determine which medicines will be covered by insurance plans and how much the insurance companies will cover. The big-box chains like CVS and Walgreens (with ties to many insurers) do well with this system, but PBMs bully small pharmacies with anti-competitive policies, manipulative hidden fees, and reimbursements that are far below cost. With no transparency or accountability required on their part, they prey on neighborhood pharmacies.  Continue Reading

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