Pharmacists, PBMs point fingers in rising drug costs
Pharmacy-benefits managers and independent pharmacists are using a recently released AARP Rx Price Watch
Report as an opportunity to engage in a battle of words over which group is more responsible for rising prescription drug costs. The AARP report found that 2009 retail prices for 217 prescription drugs widely used by Medicare beneficiaries was notably higher than the rate of increase during the previous four years. The increase in 2009 was 8.3% compared with a range of 6% to 7.9% during 2005 to 2008. The report made no reference to any particular group being responsible, but the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group representing independent pharmacists, in a written statement blamed PBMs for the cost increases. “Drug manufacturers pay PBMs billions of dollars each year to drive brand market share, resulting in enormous PBM profits, with the rest passed onto health plans,” NCPA President Joseph Harmison said. The PBM trade group Pharmaceutical Care Management Association struck back with its own take on who is to blame for escalating drug costs. “Unlike independent drugstores, PBMs are hired by payers to drive down prescription costs, not maximize reimbursement,” the group said in its statement.