Pa. pharmacists oppose merging Medco, Express Scripts

    Community pharmacists in Pennsylvania are speaking out against the proposed merger of two of the three largest pharmacy-benefit managers in the country.

    Pharmacy-benefit managers administer prescription drug benefits for health insurers.

    The Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council said this week uniting Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions would give the resulting company unprecedented power to set reimbursement fees for community pharmacies.

    Paul Granger, president of the group which represents supermarket pharmacists, said it would also take business from independent pharmacists.

    “Mail-order pharmacies compete directly with community pharmacies, not only on price and attractiveness to the consumer, but because the insurance companies drive those consumers to those organizations directly,” Granger said.

    Express Scripts and New Jersey-based Medco say by merging, they will be able to negotiate lower drug prices and save employers and consumers money.

    The $29 billion merger, announced in July, is under review of the Federal Trade Commission amid concerns over anti-trust violations.

    A U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee will hear testimony Tuesday on the proposed merger.

    The hearing is dubbed “The Express Scripts–Medco Merger: Cost Savings for Consumers or More Profits for Middlemen?”

    Express Scripts has a plant in Bensalem, Pa.

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