Florida lawmakers push to improve access to prescription drugs, lower costs

The Capitolist

December 20, 2019

Calling out Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or “PBM’s” for predatory business practices, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes Republicans Jackie Toledo and Randy Fine, Democrat State Rep. Kamia Brown and Democrat State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, unveiled new legislation this week designed to increase Floridian’s access to prescription drugs while lowering costs. The proposal would limit the practice of forcing patients to get their prescription drugs from pharmacies owned by pharmacy benefit managers. At a news conference announcing the plan, the lawmakers were joined by patients, doctors and pharmacists and small business owners who say PBM’s are pocketing most of the alleged savings they are able to procure.

“PBMs aren’t medical doctors, and they shouldn’t be making medical decisions. Yet time and again we see them deny, delay, or obstruct the treatment plans that have been carefully considered and approved by patients and their physicians,” said Dr. Brandon Konkel, an oncologist from Tampa with the Florida Cancer Specialists. “PBM profits should not come before the patients, that’s why it’s essential for Florida to join the growing number of states that are pushing to reform this broken system.”

Nearly one-third of all Americans already get their drugs through one of three middlemen PBMs. And these three are all linked to major insurance companies, like UnitedHealth, Aetna (which also owns CVS drug stores), and the largest of all, Cigna, which owns ExpressScripts.

These top three PBMs control approximately 85% of the market, owning their own mail order, specialty and retail pharmacies. And they use their market power to “steer” patients to those pharmacies that will generate the greatest profit for themselves, not necessarily save the patient any money. These anti-competitive processes have reduced consumer choice and had a devastating effect on neighborhood pharmacies across the state. Over the past three years, the number of independent pharmacies in Florida has fallen by 15% and it continues to dropContinue Reading

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