Okla. independents rally against PBMs

March 5, 2014

Claiming pharmacy benefit managers are trying to run them out of business, more than 100 Oklahoma independent pharmacists recently rallied at their state capitol.

Claiming pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) are trying to run them out of business, more than 100 Oklahoma independent pharmacists recently rallied at their state capitol.

The main complaint of the pharmacists was low reimbursement by PBMs. And they are pushing for state legislation that would regulate PBMs.

“Nearly 600 Oklahoma pharmacies are at risk of shutting down,” said Josh Sheffield, president of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association. “The pharmacy benefit managers are not willing to negotiate fairly.”

PBM managers dispute the unfair-practices charges.

“CVS Caremark has a pharmacy network that includes nearly 68,000 participating pharmacies, including national chains and the majority of independent, community-based pharmacies,” Christine Cramer, a spokeswoman for CVS Caremark, toldThe Oklahoman. “We reimburse our participating network pharmacies at competitive rates that balance the need to fairly compensate pharmacies while providing a cost-effective benefit to our client plan.”

 

A spokesman for Express Scripts, Brian Henry, said his company treats independent pharmacists fairly.

“For the last two decades we’ve had a very healthy relationship with independent pharmacies. We have provided fair rates. We have paid reimbursements in a timely fashion and we offer independent pharmacies as part of all of our networks,” Henry told the newspaper.

The pharmacists are advocating legislation, HB 2100, which would prohibit PBMs from requiring them to dispense medication when the reimbursement rate is below the pharmacy’s invoice cost. The bill is co-authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, a pharmacist, who said below-cost reimbursements are hurting patients across the state.

“Who loses in that situation? The patient,” Standridge told KFOR-TV.  “The senior citizen in the nursing home that is dying of cancer cannot have oxycodone because neither Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or any other pharmacy in this state can afford to have it on their shelves.”