Reports say independent pharmacies charge more for Rxs; see increase in profits, salaries

WASHINGTON Reports released today said that data from MyFloridarx.com, a Web site maintained by Florida’s office of the attorney general, shows that independent drug stores in Florida are charging about 15 percent more for several widely prescribed drugs. The findings have raised concerns over recent requests by independent pharmacy groups to receive collective bargaining privileges.

Figures in the 2008 National Community Pharmacists Association Digest also have shown that independent pharmacies have seen an increase in profits and salaries over the past year. And, survey results which ran in Drug Topics magazine this year showed that pharmacists in independent pharmacy on average earn an annual base salary of $109,618.

The salary and profits reported by independent pharmacies and the percentage of prescription drug markups have raised questions over some of the wording of the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2007 (HR 971). Particularly, that the act “Entitles independent pharmacies negotiating contract terms with a health plan for the provision of health care items or services to the same treatment under the antitrust laws as the treatment to which bargaining units recognized under the National Labor Relations Act are entitled,” but, prohibits “applying this Act to negotiations between independent pharmacies and health plans pertaining to federal health benefits.”

The Federal Trade Commission stated during testimony on HR 971 before the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force, “Giving heathcare providers … a license to engage in price fixing and boycotts in order to extract higher payments from third-party payers would be a costly step backward, not forward, on the path to a better healthcare system.”

The Congressional Budget Office recently stated that HR 971 would raise federal costs by $640 million in 10 years. CBO also said that the bill would cause an increase in prescription drug expenses for consumers, employers and private health plans that would result in health insurance benefits getting slashed and higher copayments.

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