In the world of Big Healthcare mergers and acquisitions, it’s deja vu all over again.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating UnitedHealth Group’s proposed purchase of Change Healthcare, self-described in its Wikipedia entry as “a provider of revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions, connecting payers, providers, and patients in the U.S. healthcare system. The name also refers to a company founded in 2007 which subsequently became part of the current conglomerate.”

One would think that 2-sentence description alone would provide the DOJ just cause for stopping the acquisition, but perhaps the DOJ, like most…

4 AM, Saturday morning. The pharmacist packs her car with vaccine supplies and documentation, then hits the road. It’s well before sunrise, but 5 hours and counting until the community clinic starts. Before the day ends, she’ll have administered more than 100 vaccines, with a 6-hour road trip bookending her day.

American healthcare is a disparate collection of incongruencies. Built on the fundamentals of capitalism yet segregated from the free market, the U.S. healthcare system has left a nation of disenfranchised providers attempting to care for bewildered patients who no longer know who to trust: their doctors and pharmacists? …

2021. So far for pharmacies, it’s been a wild ride. The much-anticipated advent of the COVID vaccine(s) has spawned additional issues with rollout and availability capabilities — many of which can be tied back to misinformation, corporate territorialism, and lack of proper planning.

Does anyone else hear a common PBM theme here?

States that are excelling in the vaccination effort are those including their local independent pharmacies in all phases of distribution. In an MSNBC interview this month, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice noted that “instead of letting vaccines sit on shelves we saw that our elderly wanted to go…

A Louisiana independent pharmacist administers the COVID vaccine to a local patient. Photo courtesy of Collin Richie

Carl Savoie’s mother died alone in a nursing home.

“She didn’t die from illness. She died of loneliness,” the Opelousas, Louisiana-based pharmacist and owner of Carl’s Thrifty Way Pharmacy told local newspaper the Daily World. “She never got to touch her grandkids anymore. The residents at the nursing home had become shut-ins.”

Savoie is among the nation’s thousands of independent pharmacists and pharmacy owners who are mobilized and vaccinating as many Americans as possible against COVID-19.

After learning he would receive a substantially larger number of vaccine doses than the standard 100 doses community pharmacies were being given by the…

The polio vaccine was never patented. The insulin patent was sold for $1. The average price for epinephrine is around $109 while the 2-pack EpiPen sells for somewhere between $650-$700. How does the conversation for the moral value of medication — not just market value — keep getting shoved under the rug?

That’s the question Canadian drug maker Medicure Inc. and Winston-Salem, NC-based Marley Drug were contending with when, in a moment of brilliance, they decided to align their operations for the sake of U.S. patients seeking access to affordable medication.

Loosely translated, “aligning” meant Medicure would acquire Marley Drug

The schoolyard bully doesn’t like it when the other kids finally stand up for themselves.

Such was the case this week when CVS Health posted a 4-paragraph response to losing the $400 million State of Louisiana employee and retiree pharmacy benefits contract.

With zero irony, the largest health company in the U.S. complained on their LinkedIn page:

“By inserting themselves in the state’s process of selecting a firm to manage prescription drug coverage … special interest groups representing Louisiana’s independent pharmacists attempted to line their own pockets at the expense of the state’s taxpayers, employees, and retirees …

This situation…

How important is patient privacy? One would think it pretty important, given the federal government’s passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) some 24 years ago. But once again it seems pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) see themselves as above the law. And now apparently so does the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Eighth Circuit recently ruled in favor of the nation’s largest and arguably one its smarmiest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), Express Scripts (ESI), after a group of independent pharmacies accused ESI of using confidential customer information to steer patients to its mail-order pharmacy.

The pharmacies…

Pharmacy owner and town pharmacist Dave Bagot, RPh double-checks prescriptions at Petersburg Pharmacy

Petersburg is a small Central Illinois town some 20 miles outside of Springfield. An agricultural community nestled on a bluff overlooking the Sangamon River, it’s the kind of idyllic midwestern town big city folks imagine when talking about old fashioned American values — a safe, simple, quaint existence. A place where restored Victorian homes peacefully coexist amid local shops and residents enjoy a bounty of fresh fish, venison, and backyard-harvested produce. A place where neighbors know each other’s names and look out for one another; a town safe from the ravages of a global pandemic.

Until it isn’t.

Pharmacist Dave…

Following Friday’s announcement by President Trump of the signing of four new Executive Orders aimed at reducing the price of prescription drugs for Americans, Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency (PUTT) is cautiously optimistic that some of these Executive Orders will result in the fulfillment of promises made by the President two years ago.

While we are most hopeful for the Executive Order “prohibit(ing) secret deals between drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit manager middlemen, ensuring patients directly benefit from available discounts at the pharmacy counter” we respectfully ask the Trump Administration to consider the following questions:

  • What protections will be…

Pharmacists United for Truth & Transparency

PUTT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of independent pharmacy & fighting against PBM anti-competitive business tactics.

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