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FLORIDA’S SECRET DRUG PRICING SCAM YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

Medium.com Though you may have never heard of them, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) play a critical role in the price you and I pay for prescription drugs at the pharmacy. Like rats in a sewer, PBMs thrive on secrecy. Once the processors of prescription drug claims, today the largest PBMs are subsidiaries of the largest health insurers, helping corporations like CVS Health and UnitedHealth leap to 5th and 7th place respectively on the Fortune 500 — just behind better-known corporations like Walmart, Amazon, and Apple. Bear in mind PBMs and insurers don’t manufacture a product or provide a service. They’re simply extremely wealthy middlemen. PBMs exert more control over the price of prescription drugs than you might imagine. They create […]

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What “Big Insurance” Doesn’t Want You to Know About Community Pharmacies

Medium.com Patients and pharmacists share a special relationship, often stretching back generations. Even the frightening spike in drug costs can’t erode the feeling of trust and care we feel when walking into our neighborhood pharmacy. But “neighborhood pharmacies” as we know them are rapidly disappearing, victims of large corporate pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) “middlemen” that now dominate the drug industry. If you’ve never heard of PBMs, you’re not alone. The largest PBMs own or are owned by, well-known health insurers (UnitedHealth; CVS Health, CIGNA) — and all own or have affiliate relationships with their own pharmacies. If you’re a die-hard CVS or Walgreens shopper, you may not be familiar with the neighborhood (or community) pharmacy — but you should be. […]

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Prescription for Transparency

California Business Journal – August 25, 2020 Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) were created to be the middleman and negotiate drug prices. Working with the health care providers, pharmacies and the pharmaceutical companies determine reimbursements and what they’d charge the pharmacies. The problem is that without regulation, the PBMs have bad business practices. The fix is on the way. Magnified by the economic and health care impacts of the novel coronavirus, the Florida legislature is honing in on regulations for a long-veiled middleman in the chain of rising prescription drug pricing. Intended to serve as a beneficial consumer go-between for pharmacies and health insurance companies to provide cost analysis, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) have instead transformed into a profit-driven model favoring, […]

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Pharmacy Deserts Are on the Horizon if PBMs Continue to Underpay Medicaid Reimbursements

Grit Daily – August 17, 2020 Independent pharmacies are being forced into bankruptcy due to underpayment for Medicaid reimbursements, which are managed by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs.) These small pharmacies are deciding to either turn away Medicaid patients or to close their practices, creating pharmacy deserts in poor neighborhoods. A survey of 123 independent pharmacies in Florida found that over 60% “may be forced to discontinue taking Medicaid patients if changes are not made to the program that currently requires neighborhood pharmacies to sell most prescription drugs at a loss.” 93% declared having to turn away at least one Medicaid patient per month because dispensing to them would cause the pharmacy to lose money. There are ripple effects to having pharmacies take repeated […]

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Why are neighborhood pharmacies disappearing? Ask the Noriega Family.

Lissette Campos – July 15, 2020 I arrived at Bill’s Prescription Center in Brandon an hour early, half expecting to find a quiet operation with the owner prepping for our television interview. After all, how busy can they be? I’m here because neighborhood pharmacies like this one, close to 100 in the Tampa Bay area alone, are in danger of closing. Common sense would have you believe the disappearing act is caused by a lack of customers. Three minutes in, I realized there’s nothing common sense about this situation. A steady stream of customers didn’t just walk in for their medicines, they arrived for, what felt like, a family reunion! “Hi Basil? How are you?” asked one woman, smiling under […]

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Pharmacy Benefit Managers Are the Real Reason Behind Skyrocketing Drug Prices

Grit Daily – April 30, 2020 Why are drug costs so high in America? If you ask Bernie Sanders, he will tell you that it’s due to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. If you remember when “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, made the price of the life saving drug Daraprim 5,000% higher overnight, you may agree with this assessment. But, there is more to the story, and it has to do with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM’s). Within the healthcare industry, there are pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacists, insurance companies, and Managed Care Organizations (MCO) for Medicaid, but there is one more player that few outside of the industry discuss—the pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM. A PBM’s original role was […]

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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 […]

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Independent Pharmacists Stress Personal Touch In An Industry Dominated By Chains

The Town Crier, February 28, 2020 On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the advocacy group Small Business Pharmacies Aligned for Reform (SPAR) hosted a press conference at My Community Pharmacy in Wellington regarding pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and their effect on pharmaceutical pricing. Speakers at the event outlined what they called “shady” practices in the PBM industry that aims to put independent pharmacies, such as My Community Pharmacy, out of business. The pharmacy is located at 2615 S. State Road 7 near Whole Food Market in Wellington, owned by Johnny Meier, one of the speakers at the event. In attendance with Meier were other local, independent pharmacists, customers and Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig. Several speakers addressed the problems involving pharmacy benefit managers — […]

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Opinion: Your local pharmacy is at risk of going away

83 Degrees, July 14, 2020 Tampa summers are typically the “slow season” for local pharmacies. But during COVID-19, nothing is typical nor should be taken for granted. The coronavirus pandemic coined the term “essential workers” and your local pharmacy is obviously essential, right? Pharmacies are always open, even in a public health crisis. Of course, they’re open, why wouldn’t they be open? Pharmacies are always there when people need them. But what happens if your local pharmacy can’t be there for you? Opinion column by Pharmacist Alex HerwigA recent survey among Florida independent pharmacies shed light on a little-known, but critical issue. Intended to examine the viability of Florida’s Medicaid managed care model on local pharmacies, the survey instead uncovered […]

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Data Proves PBM Industry Maximized Profit At Patient Expense

Cision Newswire, June 15, 2020 Physicians and Patient Advocates Call for More State Disclosures The Alliance for Transparent and Affordable Prescriptions (ATAP) reacted today to a report issued by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) showing the financial activity of the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry in the Lone Star State. Texas law requires that PBMs annually report to the Insurance Commissioner aggregate data on rebates. “The Texas rebate report is unambiguous. The PBM industry has been generating significant profits while patients struggle to afford the cost of prescription drugs,” stated ATAP’s President Dr. Robert Levin. “Since 2016, through a complex rebate and price concession, the PBM industry in Texas pocketed more than $350 million in revenue, while passing a mere $16 million in savings to enrollees.” The data as reported […]

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