NACDS urges consumers to prevent super-PBM 'stranglehold' on medicines

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Tuesday unveiled the print advertising component of its campaign to emphasize the anti-competitive and anti-consumer effects of the proposed merger of Express Scripts and Medco.

The new print ad was published in the Oct. 4 issue of the Washington Post (and can be seen by clicking here).

“Don’t give Express Scripts and Medco a stranglehold on Americans’ medicines,” the ad urges. “Americans depend on their prescription medicines. That’s why the proposed Medco and Express Scripts merger worries so many consumers.”

Among rising concerns about the proposed merger, five national consumer groups on Sept. 20 wrote to the Federal Trade Commission to oppose the merger — National Consumers League, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, U.S. PIRG and National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices.

In their letter to the FTC, the consumer groups wrote, “This merger will significantly reduce competition among the major PBMs. … The combined company is unlikely to pass on savings obtained through rebates to public and private payers.”

The new NACDS print ad reflects this concern, saying that the mega-merger would result in “less competition, less choice and an unknown middleman with the power to tell us when, where and how to get vital medicines.” The ad asks, “What will stop Express Scripts and Medco from putting profits ahead of patients?” 

“Neighborhood pharmacies are highly trusted and highly accessible, and provide unsurpassed value when it comes to improving patient health and reducing across-the-board healthcare expenses,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “NACDS is committed to telling this story, while defending against potential threats to high-quality and cost-effective patient care.” 

In addition to launching the new ads, NACDS created a micro website at, which provides regular updates about developments related to the proposed merger.

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- 6:19 PM
Brian Henry says

Express Scripts greatly values the relationships it has built over the past 25 years with pharmacies of every type. Pharmacies are our partners, and we have built business and network relationships that have ensured safe and effective service for our customers. We look forward to fostering those relationships as we continue our efforts to work to improve America's healthcare delivery system. We have played an important role in helping retail pharmacies gain the benefits of modern technology. Reimbursement from insurers used to involve paper forms, carbon copies and long waits for payment. Today, our payment processing systems give pharmacists more time to spend counseling patients instead of filling out forms. For smaller pharmacies in particular, finding out whether a prescription was covered could once take weeks, or even months. When a medication wasn’t covered, recouping payment from customers was a difficult process. Our instant adjudication systems remove the uncertainty and risk, a major boon for pharmacies with low operating margins. When pharmacists are limited to the information in their own systems and what patients share about their therapies, costly prescription drug errors can occur. Express Scripts’ system notifies pharmacists of harmful interactions, contraindications and other clinical criteria that assist them in practicing pharmacy. We believe our proposed merger with Medco will accelerate our ability to help drive out pharmacy waste, lower the cost of prescription medicine and help improve health outcomes. To find out more, please visit:

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