WASHINGTON, April 2, 2012
Nationwide Coalition Responds As FTC Votes 3-1 To Close Investigation Of Mega-PBM Merger
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former Congresswoman Eva M. Clayton, chairwoman of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) coalition, today released the following statement in response to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) announcement concerning its decision to close its investigation of the merger between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) Express Scripts, Inc. (ESI) and Medco Health Solutions, made in a 3-1 vote. Despite the dissent of Commissioner Julie Brill, the FTC will allow the $29 billion deal to move forward, subject to intervention of the courts:
"More than 80 Members of Congress, attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient advocates and countless others – including FTC Commissioner Julie Brill – have raised questions about the impact of an ESI/Medco merger on the industry, as well as patients and consumers. In light of the very real concerns repeatedly expressed, I am extremely disappointed by the Commission's decision to allow this deal to move forward without taking any steps to safeguard against the competitive harm that will result.
"The reality is the merger of these two multi-billion dollar companies will give the combined entity tremendous power in the health care marketplace, enabling them to squeeze the health care system for their own profits – at the expense of patient choice, access and service. It will result in a virtual monopoly that will lead to higher health care costs and reduced access to cheaper generic drugs, lifesaving specialty medications and vital community pharmacy services. While all communities will surely be impacted, the elderly, the poor, minorities and those with special needs will be most severely affected.
"With this in mind, the Federal Trade Commission is not the final word on this dangerous merger; rather, the law and the courts are. We encourage the state attorneys general who have been scrutinizing the merger to take the very necessary step, which the Federal Trade Commission failed to take, and move immediately to ask the courts to stop it."
Last July, ESI and Medco announced a $29 billion merger agreement. Both PBMs are multi-billion-dollar companies, which, combined, will control an excessive share of the market. The abundance of evidence shows this virtual monopoly will lead to higher health care costs and reduced access to cheaper generic drugs, lifesaving specialty medications and vital community pharmacy services.
Over the last few months, more than 80 Members of Congress, elected officials including attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient advocates and countless others – even FTC Commissioner Julie Brill – have expressed concerns about the impact of an approved merger on patients and consumers. In fact, Commissioner Brill abstained from voting to issue the Statement of the Commission and released a dissenting statement where she described the merger as an industry "game changer" that creates a "merger to duopoly" between the merged ESI/Medco and CVS Caremark, "with few efficiencies and high entry barriers – something no court has ever approved." In addition, Commissioner Brill expressed concern about the likelihood of coordinated effects allowing the merged ESI/Medco and CVS Caremark to "pull their competitive punches" when bidding on customer accounts in the future. Commissioner Brill called on the Commission to conduct a retrospective study on the merger in three years' time.
Yet, the FTC has decided to allow the merger without taking any steps to safeguard against the competitive harm that will result. And according to the Commission's press release, an earlier motion by Chairman Leibowitz to accept for public comment a proposed consent agreement that would have prohibited Express Scripts from engaging in potentially exclusionary conduct that might have hindered the ongoing expansion of competition did not get the three votes it needed and was withdrawn.
The merger was challenged in Federal Court in Pennsylvania last week by community pharmacy trade associations and community pharmacies across the nation. These parties have requested a temporary restraining order to prohibit the merger from closing.
Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! is a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists from across the country that have come together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. PCPAN is a project of Pharmacy Choice and Access Now.
Contact:Elizabeth Heaton(703) firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW!PR Newswire
Last updated on: 02/04/2012