More Voices Join Chorus Questioning Express Scripts-Medco Pharmacy Merger

By Kevin Schweers

Congressional concern over the proposed mega-merger of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) Express Scripts and Medco continues to increase as a New York Democrat and a South Carolina Republican became the 38th and 39th Members of Congress to speak up for their constituents and the community pharmacists who serve them.

Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is reviewing the merger. She cited the significant market share that a combined Express Scripts-Medco PBM would represent.

“I am deeply concerned that this concentration of prescription drug processing into one company would limit consumer choice, and I hope the FTC will carefully assess the potential impacts of this merger on consumer access – especially for seniors – to local pharmacies and face-to-face consultations with pharmacists,” Rep. Hochul wrote. “In addition, I fear that decreasing competition in an industry that is already largely unregulated would allow the merged ESI-Medco PBM to manipulate prescription drug costs for their own benefit, raising consumer prices across the country.”

“If there is any evidence at all that this new PBM may increase health care costs, decrease consumer choice and quality service, or harm our nation’s independent and chain pharmacies, I urge you to reject the merger,” she concludes.

In addition, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) recently wrote to the FTC and “expressed that a number of his constituents have expressed reservations about the merger,” according to the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition. With his letter Wilson reportedly included constituent letters addressing the issue.

NCPA commends these Members of Congress and their colleagues for voicing their concerns. NCPA, leading consumer advocates and others fear that the merger could reduce competition, limit patients’ choice of pharmacy and increase prescription drug costs and should be blocked.

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