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National Coalition Continues Fight to Stop the Express Scripts/Medco Merger in Nation's Capitol

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights hearing to investigate the proposed merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions consumers, small business owners and community pharmacists with Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) traveled to Washington, D.C. today, to oppose the deal.  While in town, PCPAN members and leadership met with elected representatives on Capitol Hill and others.

The coalition expressed concerns that an approved merger would combine two of the nation's three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), giving the consolidated mega-PBM the unfettered ability to increase prices and reduce access to pharmacy services.  There is widespread concern from elected officials including attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient advocates and others.  All have expressed concerns that approving this merger would result in increased costs for lesser quality health care.

"Approving this merger would give the consolidated PBM the unchecked ability to steer consumers away from community pharmacies until, eventually, they no longer have a choice," said Eva M. Clayton, chair of Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN).  "In many areas, pharmacists are the most accessible health care professional, providing important services at affordable prices and at convenient times and locations, and fazing them out of the health care system wouldn't just be inconvenient, it would be disastrous – particularly for those in underserved communities.  We need to make sure that this doesn't happen and oppose the merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions."

PBMs are the largely unregulated drug middlemen that manage prescription drug benefit programs for employers, unions, health plans and others.  Today, PBMs control the drug benefits of more than 200 million patients nationwide.  This number includes a diverse group of Americans such as Medicare Part D beneficiaries, servicemen and veterans who are TRICARE beneficiaries, and more.

"PBMs were created to help plan sponsors and patients save money – but it would seem that, over time, they have become more focused on increasing their bottom line than fulfilling this objective," said Dennis Archer, the chief legal counsel for Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN).  "I do not believe that allowing a merger that would give an even bigger PBM unprecedented power and control over the market and the prescription drug plans of millions of Americans would be in the best interest of anyone but Express Scripts and Medco, and I hope that the merger is challenged by the Federal Trade Commission."

Last July, Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc, two of the nation's largest PBMs, announced a merger agreement that could go into effect as soon as early 2012.  The merger has been investigated by a House antitrust committee and will be investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights in December.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will ultimately determine whether or not the deal will move forward.  PCPAN members hope that Members of Congress will stand up for patient care and oppose the merger.

Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! is a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists from across the country that have come together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc.  PCPAN is a project of Pharmacy Choice and Access Now.

SOURCE Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN)
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