Trump wants lower prescription drug costs. Florida lawmakers should make the market more competitive

The Capitolist

October 9, 2019

President Donald Trump visited Florida last week, making a stop at The Villages, one of the highest concentrations of American citizens who depend heavily on prescription medications. During the stop, he highlighted one of his highest priorities: making prescription drugs affordable for all Americans.

One of the fastest ways to make that happen requires bold action in Tallahassee, and it’s needed sooner rather than later, because independent pharmacies are closing all across the state of Florida, giving rise to large chains that dominate the market, restrict consumer choice, and remove competition from the price equation. Worse, current public policy is slowly, but inevitably encouraging a shift toward an eventual oligarchy controlled by a small number of major drug chains like CVS and Walgreens.

That’s not going to help lower the cost of prescription medications.

Nearly one-third of all Americans already get their drugs through one of three middlemen, known as “pharmacy benefit managers,” or “PBMs.” And these three major PBM’s 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.

In short, under the guise of “saving patients money,” these behemoth organizations are actually restricting patients to the insurance company’s own in-house or in-network drug chain , which in turn, buys the drugs through an in-house pharmacy benefit manager or “PBM.”  Neighborhood pharmacies can’t compete.  Continue Reading

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