ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 2, 2021) – National Community Pharmacists Association President Michele Belcher, owner of Grants Pass Pharmacy in Grants Pass, Ore., today joined a virtual town hall hosted by the American Economic Liberties Project and featuring White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, National Economic Council Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti, and Special Assistant to the President for Technology and Competition Policy Tim Wu. The event included discussions about President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and how it seeks to support the country’s workers, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Participating business and labor leaders, including Belcher, discussed the harms they experience from monopoly power and engaged in a Q&A with White House officials.
During her remarks, Belcher described how Grants Pass Pharmacy has been in the community since 1933 and is the last remaining independent pharmacy in the area. Belcher said:
“As a small business owner, I am harmed by the big three pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, and their market dominance. The three are now vertically integrated with health plans including CVS Health/Aetna, Cigna/Express Scripts and UnitedHealthcare/OptumRx. Together they monopolize 77 percent of the prescription drug benefit market. Independent pharmacies have no leverage to negotiate with PBMs and are forced into take-it-or-leave-it contracts if they want access to networks necessary to serve their patients. Even after I accept these one-sided contracts, I am subject to terms that allow the PBMs to steer my patients to their own affiliated pharmacies, opaque financial clawbacks, and discriminatory reimbursement.
“The massive consolidation has hurt my small business, my patients, and many pharmacies like mine. It’s almost like the Cignas and CVSs of the world are too big to regulate. Who is coordinating efforts between the FTC, DOJ, and HHS to stop the anticompetitive nature of these behemoths?”
Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing nearly 19,400 pharmacies that employ approximately 215,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America’s most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpa.org.