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Dueling Pharmacy Groups Launch Fresh Attacks at Each Other

The lobby group for pharmacy benefit managers is accusing community drug stores of using a double standard for attacking them while at the same time objecting to federal plans to collect drug-price data for Medicaid.

“Despite recent press revelations of its ‘top secret’ lobbying campaign to maintain the confidentiality of its own Medicaid pricing information the independent drugstore lobby continues to demand more ‘transparency’ for others in the pharmacy supply chain, most notably PBMs,” said the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents pharmacy benefit managers, in a statement Friday.

PCMA is taking issue with an attack on its members this week by the National Community Pharmacists Association. The pharmacists argued that benefits managers’ profits went up as much as five-fold over the past decade while retail prices of the most popular brand-name drugs, according to an AARP report, increased 41.5 percent over the past five years.

“AARP’s findings, combined with windfall PBM profits, make it clear why PBMs so strongly resist greater transparency requirements, such as assuming fiduciary duty to put client’s interests above their own,” said Joseph Harrison, president of the NCPA in a statement issued Wednesday.

But the benefits managers respond that it is the pharmacists that have been lobbying against more disclosure of drug prices. They point to a letter from a number of pharmacists and drug store associations, including the NCPA, to the deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid opposing a proposal to require collection of data of wholesale prices that pharmacies pay to purchase drugs.

“There is no authority for CMS to collect and distribute prices pharmacies pay for drugs,” the Aug. 6 letter reads.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said such lobbying was evidence of a “disclosure double standard.”

“Their unwise, high-profile disclosure double standard strategy is largely responsible for Washington’s growing interest in more retail transparency in Medicaid and other programs,” PCMA added in its statement.

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