*PRESS RELEASE* Coalition Launches to ‘EMPOWER Patients’ Against Prescription Drug Middlemen

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For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 2, 2020
Contact: Anna Farrar, anna@convergegps.com, 954.647.7059

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–In response to the explosive report by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) in December 2020 that showed pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) have been getting away with gaming the system, a coalition of neighborhood and independent pharmacies have banded together to launch EMPOWER Patients. The coalition issued a call to action to Florida legislators: take up PBM reform this year to potentially save the state millions during a tough budget year.

Michael Jackson, CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association said, “The AHCA report’s revelations were the catalyst for us coming together to form a coalition to fundamentally change the dark and greedy business practices of PBMs. These middlemen siphon off cash to line their own pockets and control prescription drug decision making in Florida. We are facing a tremendous budget year where Florida legislators will be searching for savings, and PBM reform is a good step forward. This coalition will do everything possible to support our patients, support our state, and support our local pharmacists who are working hard to help communities navigate tough health care decisions especially during the pandemic.”

Dr. Kevin Duane, Panama Pharmacy, Jacksonville, “I go to work each day to help some of Jacksonville’s most vulnerable residents make the best decisions for their health. But, this mission is severely stunted when prescription drug middlemen force medical decisions onto patients based on how much money the PBM can make from a specific drug. We look forward to taking on this fight for our patients and so we can restore the relationship between a patient and their neighborhood pharmacist.”  

Bill Eley, Director of Legislative Affairs, American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc. said, “The three largest PBMs in the country are in charge of the prescription drug decisions for more than three quarters of Americans with pharmacy benefits coverage. Their excessive market power and deep layers of secrecy have provided them with seemingly limitless opportunities to take advantage of local providers, patients, employers, and taxpayers. Faceless billionaire middlemen have stripped patients of their power and choice, and it’s time that Floridians reclaim control of their healthcare.”

While the AHCA report revealed several issues including that the PBM practice of spread pricing has been exploited in Florida’s Medicaid program and that major inconsistencies with Medicaid reimbursements for PBM-affiliated pharmacies exist in the state, it reflects the nature of the PBM industry: nebulous and difficult to understand. The PBM industry is designed this way to keep their business practice under wraps. Thankfully, the report recommends greater transparency in the industry.

The coalition will focus on supporting policies that empower patients to take back control of their health care, increase access to affordable medication, restore the patient/pharmacist relationship, and drastically cut the role of prescription drug middlemen in prescription drug decision making. EMPOWER Patients comprises the Florida Pharmacy Association, hundreds of neighborhood Florida pharmacies, and the American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc.