It’s Time to End Discriminatory Pricing

By John Norton

If you ask independent community pharmacists about their biggest challenge, many roll their eyes, clench their jaws, and blurt out three letters that have become the bane of their existence – PBM. The list of offensive business practices is long, but all roads lead back to a transformation of PBMs from small claims adjudicators to billion-dollar middlemen. For example, they saw the deals hospitals were getting from drug manufacturers many years ago to promote certain medications over others in their formularies, and ran with the idea.

Independents, chains and mail order pharmacies all belong to the retail class of trade and should receive the same prices from drug manufacturers. Building off of the “hospital model”, PBMs created their own formularies so they can receive “rebates” for promoting the use of certain drugs over others. Those profits are not sufficiently shared with health plan sponsors, pharmacies or patients. The concept of discriminatory pricing subsequently kicks in because chains like Walgreens have a certain amount of leverage to get prices set at a certain level, and mail order pharmacies that are owned by the PBMs obviously get an in-house discount; which leaves independents with a bad deal, even when they join buying groups comparable in size to some chains.

It is against that backdrop that Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO, was interviewed by Toddy S. Eury of Pharmacy Technology Resources yesterday. PTR is dedicated to the independent pharmacy owner or management team to help guarantee pharmacy organizations reach their business goals and objectives. They are a consulting team that believes in delivering complete technology solutions to the independent pharmacy market.

The  audio podcast runs approximately 35 minutes and is highly informative. Bruce discusses the history and current nature of the problem, offers common solutions, and provides suggestions for how community pharmacies and their patients can help exert pressure to ensure those solutions are embraced.

To listen go to following link:

An op-ed from Bruce on this subject matter also ran in Drug Topics on November 3rd, which can be viewed at the following link:

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