<More than 80 community pharmacists from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and several patients met with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today to discuss the negative impact of the March 2007 CVS/Caremark merger and to urge the FTC to re-examine it.
"Community pharmacists have received many complaints from patients about CVS Caremark's higher prices and questionable marketing practices," said Holly Whitcomb Henry, RPh, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) President and Seattle, Washington pharmacy owner. "Despite CVS/Caremark's pre-merger promise to be 'agnostic as to where the consumer fills their prescription,' the company's mail-order and in-store sales and marketing teams tap into personal patient information and then aggressively use that information to steer them to CVS stores or Caremark mail order. That's anti-competitive and, ultimately, anti-consumer"
In New England, Pharmacist D. was appalled when his patient's co-pay on a monthly refill suddenly increased from approximately $5 to $50. When D. asked her if she knew why, he learned she had been receiving letters that said she would have to either pay a "penalty co-pay" or transfer her prescriptions to CVS retail or Caremark mail order. CVS Caremark was also requiring her to get a 3-month supply of a liquid drug which was much too heavy for the 94-year-old patient to lift. Instead, D. offered her the drug at cash price—less than half the price CVS Caremark wanted her to pay.
From Pharmacist K. in Wisconsin: "Today we attempted to fill a medication for a customer who needed it to coincide with her chemotherapy. Her plan does cover the medication but when we attempted to fill she was told it had to come from their [CVS Caremark] mail-order service. This delay will affect her chemo cycles and possibly her whole recovery."
A longtime patient of Pharmacist R. in Louisiana was shocked when her monthly refill was denied and the system claimed the drugs had already been processed—at a CVS pharmacy two towns over. When R. called to ask why the drugs had been filled at a different pharmacy without the patient's request, the CVS pharmacy refused to comment and only said, "We'll back them out [reverse the prescription claims]."
In today's meeting, NCPA urged the FTC to take a number of steps, including investigating allegations of anticompetitive and deceptive conduct by CVS Caremark; requiring CVS Caremark to treat all pharmacies in a nondiscriminatory fashion; and ensuring that the company creates an ironclad barrier between CVS and Caremark so that competitively sensitive Caremark information cannot be used by its retail operations.
Historically, the FTC reopens three to five mergers annually. In 1998, for example, the FTC investigated the Merck/Medco merger five years after its approval and found "the merger has made it possible for Medco to share with Merck sensitive pricing information it gets from Merck's competitors." The company signed a consent agreement to settle the FTC investigation, agreeing to refrain from sharing proprietary or other non-public information they receive from one another's competitors. >
Bigger reason house bill and gov insurance. Premium gov insur is $175 month. Caremark and other hlth care insurance companys are $600 a month. Also what about Rxs and what they will get paid? Health care industry stocks could go south real quick. CEOs are shtin kupkakes and pukin bile.