ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A number of members of Congress have raised questions about the proposed merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, prompting a lobbying group that represents independent pharmacies and opposes the merger to highlight the matter.
The National Community Pharmacists Association pointed to a letter sent Monday to the Federal Trade Commission by 14 Democratic and Republican House members expressing misgivings about the $29.1 billion merger and requesting a "full and thorough investigation." Express Scripts and Medco are 2-of-the-3 largest PBMs in the country, and many political and other leaders have expressed concerns about the effect their merger would have on the PBM market. Meanwhile, the two PBMs have defended the deal, saying it would reduce healthcare spending for payers and consumers.
"On its face, the merger demonstrates the potential for a combined entity to demonstrate an already heavily concentrated market," the representatives wrote. "We understand that this combined entity has the potential to control more than 40% of annual prescriptions and more than 80% of private plans. And, if unregulated, would have the ability to raise prices and/or block pass-through pricing for plans and patients — ultimately limiting critical access."
The 14 representatives who signed the letter were Robert Anderholt, R-Ala.; Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.; Joe Bonner, R-Ala.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Judy Chu, D-Calif.; Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y.; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas; Tom Marino, R-Pa.; Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Terri Sewell, D-Ala.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; and Don Young, R-Alaska.
"The U.S. Congress is clearly taking a much-needed and forceful role in favor of rigorous oversight of the proposed Express Scripts-Medco merger, clouding the once-certain forecasts of the deal's approval," NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey said. "Legislative time is at a premium, so these two hearings represent a major statement of congressional concern over this merger. These developments also demonstrate NCPA's tireless and coordinated efforts in opposition to the merger."