Pharmacy owners plead for policy reform on PBMs

Bipartisan bill would help local pharmacies stay in business

FORD CITY, May 10 – As dozens of independent pharmacies are closing their doors throughout Pennsylvania, state Reps. Jessica Benham and Abby Major held a news conference today with the president of Klingensmith’s Drugstores to emphasize the need for a legislative solution to pharmacy benefit managers.

“We're up to 80 closed pharmacies across Pennsylvania this year,” said Dave Cippel, president and head pharmacist at Klingensmith’s Drugstores. “Nothing good happens in a small community when their local independent pharmacy closes. We pride ourselves on a high level of service that you won't get with larger chain pharmacies. Everything from free drug delivery to knowing our customers by name. I'm grateful to Representative Benham for coming out to my community and my pharmacy today, along with my representative, Representative Major, to highlight the need for this important reform legislation. We cannot afford to lose more independent community pharmacies in Pennsylvania.”

Benham said her bipartisan bill (H.B. 1993) is uniquely tailored to address complaints about PBMs from local pharmacy owners like Cippel who feel PBMs are the primary force driving independently-owned pharmacies out of business in Pennsylvania.

“The other week, we were in Moon Township outside of Pittsburgh talking about the ways in which our locally owned pharmacies are trusted community institutions that deserve a level playing field with the big corporate chains,” said Benham, D-Allegheny. “But we know that community pharmacies are struggling all across the Commonwealth – whether in the suburbs like Moon Township, urban areas like my district in Pittsburgh, or more rural areas like Ford City. Patients deserve a system that keeps costs low and allows them to stay with the pharmacy they trust while paying that pharmacy fairly, and our legislation, House Bill 1993, will do that.”

“Our small, locally owned pharmacies provide trusted care with a personal touch,” said Major, R-Armstrong/Westmoreland. “My constituents choose to utilize this type of care. That choice is being taken away by pharmacy benefit managers who are making it virtually impossible for these types of small businesses to continue to operate. This legislation is sorely needed before all neighborhood pharmacies are forced to close.”

The legislation, which has been referred to the PA House Health Committee, would direct the state Insurance Department to develop a process for hearing and resolving pharmacy complaints against PBMs and limit or ban several practices by PBMs, including patient steering, spread pricing, and retroactive recoupment of money paid by the PBM to the pharmacy.

ATTN EDITORS/ASSIGNMENT DESKS: Video and photos from the event can be found through the links.