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Proposed PBM Merger Ignites Messaging Battle

September 19, 2011

Two key stakeholders of a proposed merger between two big pharmacy benefit managers are sharpening their arguments ahead of a key House panel hearing on Tuesday. 

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition is scheduled to examine the merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, a union that would mean the combined company would manage the prescriptions of one-third of Americans.
 
On Monday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores premiered drive-time radio ads in Washington outlining what it sees as the merger's risks. The ads argue that the merger would create a mega-middle man controlling far too much of the industry, limiting competition, consumer choice and access to drugs.
"Less competition, less choice, we all know what that means," the ad says.

But Brian Henry, a spokesperson for Express Scripts, said the merger would only expand the benefits PBMs provide consumers. He highlighted a study, also released Monday, that found that the PBMs as a whole will save consumers and payers $2 trillion in prescription drug costs over the next 10 years, a 35 percent savings compared to costs without the benefit managers.

NACDS would not disclose how long the campaign will last or how much the group is spending. Henry said Express Scripts and Medco will be getting their message out, but would not specify what the campaign will look like.
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