A guest column in the March 12 issue of DSN, “Let me tell you what PBMs do,” by Republican Utah State Rep. Evan Vickers, really set off a firestorm of debate on DrugStoreNews.com and on DSN’s social media sites. Check out this snippet from two online users with VERY different perspectives on all of this. For Rep. Vickers’ complete column and to add your own views to the debate, click here.
This article is hopelessly hypocritical, biased and unfair. It’s not supported by facts in most cases. In cases where accusations are supported by facts, they are half-truths. There are many clever implications that the author does not actually explicitly state. Here’s a point-by-point of the accusations.
Accusation: As proof of these claims, the ad campaign cites conclusions of a study by Visante that was prepared for the PCMA, the trade group for the PBMs, which is a bit like a defendant hiring his own expert witness.
Comment: The author implicitly accused Express Scripts (ESI) of paying Visante, but offered no attempt whatsoever to support that accusation.
Accusation: PBMs profit at the expense of consumers.
Comment: So what? Doesn’t the author like capitalism? By definition, profit comes at the expense of customers. ... It seems there’s another implicit message in this accusation — that PBMs profit at the expense of consumers and that amount of profit is unfair and greedy. That’s false. PBMs are aligned in their interest with the interest of plan sponsors.
Accusation: PBMs eliminate competition from smaller pharmacies.
Comment: Um, I’m ... flummoxed. ... A market-based economy means there will be winners and losers, unfortunately.
Kurtwz, your response is hopelessly hypocritical and biased. I bet you work for PCMA or some PBM.
1) Express Scripts is a member of PCMA, and PCMA would not print anything that was unfavorable to ESI. ...
2) PBMs are supposed to make a profit via the plan sponsors, since they’re the ones paying the PBM. But a PBM that takes a rebate from a drug company is costing consumers. Especially consumers that are not aligned with that PBM. ...
3) PBMs eliminate competition from smaller pharmacies. It’s one thing to be eliminated competing against another pharmacy — that’s the free market — ... [but] the small independents aren’t being allowed to compete. They’re being handed a contract and told [to] take it or we’ll take away your customers. Sounds more like a mafia protection business than health care.