Meet the Middlemen
Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are the controversial middlemen in the healthcare system who control almost every aspect of patients' access to medicine. PBMs are responsible for reimbursing pharmacies for out-of-pocket costs associated with dispensing medication. The largest PBMs own their own pharmacies, and can require patients to use only PBM pharmacies or mandatory mail order.
Numerous investigations have uncovered evidence of PBMs practices including pocketing drug maker rebates; creating "preferred" pharmacy networks that exclude smaller community pharmacies; reimbursing pharmacies below drug acquisition cost; and requiring expensive "specialty" medications be filled exclusively at PBM-owned pharmacies.
The result is a rigged system that drives up consumer drug prices, exploits taxpayers and eliminates the patient's right to choose where and how they will receive their medication.
Arizona Patients, Taxpayers and Pharmacies Pay the Price
Arizona's independent pharmacy patients and their pharmacies are on the losing end of PBMs' shady, unregulated business practices.
There are many problems with the system, and only a few solutions. One solution is to eliminate discriminatory business practices like charging pharmacies a fee every time they interact with the patient's PBM. Over the course of a year, a single pharmacy can pay PBM fees equating to a full-time pharmacy technician's salary - fees that must be paid in order to serve the patient.
Independent pharmacies are small businesses that specialize in patient care for many types of common and chronic illnesses and health conditions. Patients often choose independent pharmacies for the attentiveness and care "indies" provide.
As the largest PBMs have begun to dominate Arizona healthcare, the state's neighborhood pharmacies have been forced to close, let employees go or reduce their hours in order to remain open to serve patients - even amidst the COVID crisis.
An attack on community pharmacies is an attack on patients.
Patients turn to their pharmacies for questions and assistance with their medications. When a pharmacy is forced to close its doors, patients are forced to find other options - which sometimes includes not filling their prescriptions at all if the nearest pharmacy is 10 or more miles away.
Arizona Independent Pharmacy Coalition was founded to give a voice to our state's independent pharmacies and their patients.
Arizona Independent Pharmacy Coalition is a not-for-profit* patient and pharmacy advocacy organization working to restore patients' right to choose where and how they will receive their medication. We are patients and pharmacists working together to make prescription medication accessible and affordable for Arizonans.
*501c4 status pending with the IRS