ALEXANDRIA, Va. An industry group representing the nation's independent pharmacies has submitted recommendations to a senatorial committee regarding the enforcement of antitrust laws.
The National Community Pharmacists Association offered three recommendations for strengthening antitrust enforcement measures -- ones that positively would affect the independent community pharmacies it represents, NCPA said. The statement, which was submitted to the Senate's Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights for its oversight hearing, offered the following advice:
- Take enforcement action in response to allegations from independent community pharmacies and their patients against retail pharmacy chains that have repeatedly used confidential information to steer patients away from independent community pharmacies to their own retail or mail-order pharmacies;
- Encourage and support ongoing federal and state efforts to regulate the anticompetitive business practices of pharmacy benefit managers that increase their profits at the expense of patients, pharmacies and plan sponsors; and
- Revise the 1996 Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Guidelines to include pharmacist collaboration in emerging healthcare models that allow for reimbursement of services rendered without running afoul of antitrust rules.
"The rapidly changing healthcare marketplace requires more vigilance and flexibility from the federal government, especially in areas that impact independent community pharmacies and their patients," said Joseph H. Harmison, NCPA president. "Not only will these changes help patients have greater access to affordable, transparent, streamlined prescription drug services at independent community pharmacies, but they come at a critical time with the enactment of comprehensive healthcare-reform legislation and the retirement of baby boomers that is causing Medicare to grow rapidly. The status quo is simply not sustainable, but if the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice act on these common-sense recommendations, the future will be."