ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is praising lawmakers in Medco Health Solutions’ home state of New Jersey for delivering what NACDS called “a bold and revealing blow” to the PBM’s proposed merger with Express Scripts.
In a resolution passed by the New Jersey Assembly on Thursday, the chamber urged Gov. Chris Christie to oppose the deal, citing the same anticompetitive and anticonsumer concerns that have fueled scrutiny or outright opposition by more than half of state attorneys general, more than 70 members of the U.S. Congress, national consumer groups and employers.
The New Jersey Assembly passed Assembly Resolution No. 64 by a vote of 54-16-8, just one week after its introduction on March 8. The resolution was introduced by assemblywoman Linda Stender, and does not require action by the New Jersey Senate.
In addition to citing statistics related to the predicted loss of New Jersey jobs if Medco is allowed to acquire Express Scripts, the resolution pointed to the merged entity’s market dominance, the anticipated power of the new entity to “steer plan participants to its own mail-order pharmacy” instead of community pharmacies, and the power to drive pharmacy reimbursement “beyond competitive levels” to the detriment of patients’ pharmacy access.
“The New Jersey Assembly deserves tremendous credit for passing this resolution, which demonstrates leadership in the face of tremendous risks for patient care, jobs and competitive markets,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO of NACDS. “We would only add that while the resolution described concern for its figure of 7,200 New Jersey jobs related to Medco, retail stores with pharmacies in New Jersey employ more than 84,000 people. Combine those economic considerations with the fact that New Jersey’s neighborhood pharmacies help patients take their medications correctly, improving health and reducing costs by preventing costly forms of care down the road, and the reasons to oppose this merger in the Garden State and across the nation only magnify.”
NACDS also noted that St. Louis-based Express Scripts saw the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write that “the antitrust issues are real.” Columnist Kevin Horrigan subsequently wrote in that paper, “Why are there so many middle-men? Exactly what are they contributing to our nation’s health?” Horrigan’s critique of the proposed merger included his telling admission, “One does so hate to root against the home team.”