WASHINGTON — Comments made by Express Scripts CEO George Paz after the pharmacy benefit manager's earnings call last week has garnered some attention from a coalition that is looking to stop the merger between ESI and fellow PBM Medco Health Solutions.
During the question-and-answer portion of ESI's fourth quarter 2011 earnings call, Paz was asked about the validation of narrow networks and providing larger savings for clients. He responded to one question by saying, "At the end of day, as I said earlier, Nexium is Nexium, Lipitor is Lipitor, drugs are drugs and it shouldn't matter that much whose counting to 30. And I just believe that we should be able to make sure that we put the right person in front of the right cost and make sure that we serve our clients properly."
Paz also added during the Q&A that, "[We are] absolutely focused on that and we believe that the community pharmacists severe a very important role in health care, that they do a tremendous amount. But we just don't see that one pharmacist does it that much better than another pharmacist, at least not by change. And so we're just not going to pay those premiums."
The comments drew concerns from the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition, which said Paz's statements demonstrated the "true feelings" of the PBM and further demonstrated why the proposed merger between ESI and Medco should be stopped.
"ESI and Medco have spent the last several months trying to defend their merger against claims it would result in decreased access to local community pharmacies, but recent comments demonstrate that ESI and Medco completely devalue pharmacists and show that the claims are indeed valid," PCPAN chairwoman Eva Clayton said. "Comments like this should raise serious concerns about how a combined company with such an attitude would treat pharmacies that provide important services and employ people in our communities. This is yet another reminder that this merger must be stopped."
Click here to read the full Q&A transcript.