Community R.Ph.s seek legislation against PBMs

March 26, 2007

A panel representing community pharmacy addressed members of the Maryland General Assembly recently, emphasizing the need for pending legislation that would force PBMs to end what they call "deceptive business practices" and provide better safeguards for patients.

A panel representing community pharmacy addressed members of the Maryland General Assembly recently, emphasizing the need for pending legislation that would force PBMs to end what they call "deceptive business practices" and provide better safeguards for patients. Reginia G. Benjamin, Esq., director of state government affairs for NCPA, joined Jerry Herpel, R.Ph., owner of Deep Creek Pharmacy in McHenry, Md., and Tri-Towns Pharmacy in Westernport, Md., along with representatives from the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, the Maryland Association of Chain Drug Stores, and AARP to testify before the Senate Finance Committee in support of S.B. 677, the Pharmacy Benefits Managers Regulation Act. Earlier, representatives from community pharmacy testified before the Maryland House Health & Government Operations Committee in support of the bill's companion measure in the House, H.B. 734. The senate bill is sponsored by state senators Katherine Klausmeier (D, Baltimore), George Della Jr. (D, Baltimore), and George Edwards (R, Grantsville) and would increase government oversight of PBM financial transactions. The bill would provide oversight of such activities as drug switching, drug utilization reviews, formulary management, interaction screening, and therapeutic substitutions. "While some of these functions can be valuable to cost-containment efforts, without regulatory oversight, experience has shown that some PBMs often manipulate the opportunities for their own profit and without regard to patient safety," Benjamin testified. In response, PCMA issued this statement: "H.B. 734 is anti-consumer, protectionist legislation designed to protect the income of pharmacists, at the expense of all other Maryland businesses and consumers. By requiring disclosure of proprietary financial information, this legislation would increase prescription drug benefit costs in Maryland by $4.3 billion over the next 10 years, while providing no corresponding benefit to consumers or businesses."

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