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WASHINGTON — The main lobby representing pharmacy benefit managers is launching an advertising campaign amid scrutiny the industry has received lately from the public and lawmakers.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced Tuesday the launch of its new "That's What PBMs Do" ad campaign, which includes print and video ads that focus on what the PCMA called PBMs' role in reducing pharmacy costs, Medicare Part D and mail-order pharmacy.
"This ad campaign will educate policy-makers and opinion leaders about the important savings and safety benefits PBMs provide to more than 216 million Americans," PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt said.
The campaign comes in the wake of bad publicity concerning the proposed $29.1 billion merger between PBM giants Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts, which numerous consumer advocacy groups, as well as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have strongly opposed and which has attracted scrutiny from Congress. In December, four members of Congress — including the entire South Dakota congressional delegation and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., sent letters to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz opposing the merger, followed last week by a letter to Leibowitz from a coalition of consumer advocacy groups, including the Consumer Federation of America, Community Catalyst, the National Consumers League, the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices and U.S. PIRG.
In addition, a contracting dispute between ESI and Walgreens and the chain's subsequent exit from ESI has left millions of Walgreens customers unable to get their drugs and has prompted the chain's competitors to try and draw them away. Some analysts say that a combined ESI and Medco could send even more customers to other retailers unless the Walgreens and ESI come to an agreement.