Since the merger, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which represents independent community pharmacies, has been inundated with complaints about the company’s conduct. Patients, who are the direct targets of these tactics, resent now being steered against their will to CVS Caremark’s mail order and retail pharmacies. Savings promised by CVS Caremark have seemingly vanished into thin air. Sensitive patient information is apparently being accessed by the company not for valid health reasons of payment, treatment and operations, but simply to pursue an even greater market share. Community pharmacies have seen any semblance of a level playing field wiped away by this $99 billion predatory corporate behemoth.

After raising these concerns, NCPA officials and over 80 community pharmacy owners were granted an opportunity to present evidence of CVS Caremark’s anti-competitive and anti-privacy practices at the FTC headquarters on May 13, 2009. Additional, bipartisan support was provided, after hearing about the complaints from their constituents (whether they were patients or pharmacists) by U.S. Senators Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump accuses Dems of 'treasonous' behavior Former Ohio football star faces conservative rival in GOP primary fight Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan MORE (D-Ohio), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOvernight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Dem senator presses FTC to ramp up Equifax hack probe MORE (D-Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerMcConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Trump, GOP make peace after tax win — but will it last? MORE (R-Miss.), and U.S. Representatives Michael Acuri (D-N.Y.), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtOvernight Finance: House Appropriations chair to retire | Exit sets off fight for gavel | GOP banks on tax cuts to help in midterms | Crypto exchange under scrutiny after theft | Conservatives push Trump on capital gains taxes House retirement sets off scramble for coveted chairmanship The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ala.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing Bipartisan group of senators ask Trump to fund broadband in infrastructure plan MORE (R-Ark.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachFormer reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia With Trump and GOP Congress, job creators can go on offense Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE (R-Pa.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Robert Latta (R-Ohio), Michael Rogers (R-Ala.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) in a series of letters that among other things called for, “the FTC to reopen the CVS Caremark merger investigation and determine if the acquisition poses a threat of reducing competition or whether CVS is engaging in any unfair or deceptive business practices.”

In August 2009, the FTC heeded those concerns by launching an investigation into CVS Caremark, which later disclosed this development to its shareholders. While the exact nature of the non-public investigation is unknown, the unusual collaboration of the FTC’s Consumer Protection and Competition bureaus is believed to be a good sign for community pharmacies and their patients.

This month, community pharmacists renewed the case against CVS Caremark and presented additional evidence to the enforcement agency. On one occasion, NCPA detailed CVS Caremark tactics that secretly boost the costs to health plans and profitability of its mail order pharmacy. Also brought to the FTC’s attention is how aggressive auditing is used to recoup funds from community pharmacies on minor technicalities.

On the second occasion, the focus was on how CVS Caremark’s actions have especially challenged community pharmacies and patients in rural markets, where health care options are more limited. Patients told they can only use CVS Caremark likely face a long trip to the closest CVS or a significant wait for their medicine through the mail. And their access to a local pharmacist who knows their health needs and history is lost.

NCPA has pursued assistance at other levels, bringing the questionable practices of CVS Caremark to the attention of state and local officials. With CVS Caremark’s recent acknowledgment that 24 states and certain other localities are conducting their own investigative efforts, these efforts to rein in the giant corporation are bearing fruit.

Concerned Members of Congress have been integral to bringing these investigations this far. And they still have a role to play, as evidenced by U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), who recently sent a letter to the FTC praising its efforts, but pressing for a resolution to the problem. Both Senators and Representatives should keep up the pressure. Only a thorough investigation coupled with meaningful remedies to restore competition and consumer choice will give patients and community pharmacies relief from CVS Caremark.

These actions will bring us closer to realizing Milton Friedman’s vision of both parties – including patients – benefiting when it comes to the delivery of prescription drug services.