Neighborhood pharmacies struggle to stay open due to PBM restrictions

Tampa Bay News 10, July 9, 2020

So far, at least 8 independent Tampa Bay pharmacies have shut down because of challenges with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM).

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Florida, we’ve talked a lot about what doctors’ offices are doing, but what about pharmacies?

Whether you realize it or not, your pharmacy options are becoming more limited but not because of COVID, but from something called Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. It’s a big enough problem that one Tampa lawmaker is working to pass a bill to protect independent pharmacies and demand transparency.

“Our motto here at Bill’s Prescription is to treat people like family,” pharmacist and owner of Bill’s Prescription John Basil Noriega said.

Noriega’s family opened their own pharmacy back in 1956 in Brandon, at a time when the city population was just 2,000 people.

“We have a lot of life long customers. We consider them family members now but they’re also our customers,” Noriega said.

To this day, it’s the longest standing Hispanic-owned independent pharmacy in Tampa Bay. But an unexpected threat may force him and other neighborhood pharmacies out of business.

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