Inside This Issue - News
Pending PBM merger draws fire from Rx
March 5th, 2012
NEW YORK – As the Federal Trade Commission continues to scrutinize the proposed merger of two of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits managers, the companies’ top executives continue to question the value of community pharmacists in the nation’s health care system.
Speaking on a conference call with analysts last month, Express Scripts Inc. chief executive officer George Paz implied that pharmacists did little more than count pills.
"At the end of the day … Nexium is Nexium, Lipitor is Lipitor, drugs are drugs, and it shouldn’t matter that much who’s counting to 30," Snow reportedly said.
The comment comes a few months after Medco Health Solutions Inc. CEO David Snow disparaged pharmacists during a speech at the Cleveland Clinic, saying that "I’m not dissing retail [pharmacy], but there’s a fiction that a pharmacist comes out and dialogues with you. In reality, a high school student hands you a script from the shelf."
Snow also contended that Medco’s automated dispensing facilities are “twenty-three times more accurate” than human pharmacists.
The remarks by the executives who are hoping to get approval for Express Scripts’ $29 billion acquisition of Medco, have drawn the ire of community pharmacy advocates, who have criticized the pair for saying one thing to regulators and lawmakers, and the opposite to audiences more likely to support the merger.
"These CEOs told Congress in two recent hearings that they like pharmacists," National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson said.
"Their comments about pharmacists in other settings may not rise to contempt of Congress, but they certainly meet the standard for contempt of patient care.
"This comment by Express Scripts CEO George Paz rivals the insensitivity toward patients and pharmacists demonstrated by Medco CEO David Snow in his now infamous ‘robots versus pharmacists’ comment," Anderson said.
Paz’ remark, Anderson stressed, is way off base.
Community pharmacists, he said, are the face of neighborhood health care and provide critical services including medication counseling, vaccinations, health screenings and education, and disease-state management.