Study: Drugstore networks spell big Rx savings

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Embracing these models would save Medicaid, Medicare and commercial plans $26 billion, $35 billion and $54 billion, respectively, over the next decade, Visante predicted.

Monday's study was distributed by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the lobby group for pharmacy benefit managers.

PCMA President Mark Merritt praised the findings as a way to reduce U.S. healthcare spending without cutting benefits.

"Greater use of drugstore networks can save billions without undermining patient access," Merritt said in a statement. "For public programs, it’s far better to reduce health costs by encouraging drugstores to compete than to randomly slash enrollee benefits or provider payments."

Kevin Schweers, a spokesman with the National Community Pharmacists Association, lamented in response to the study that some local pharmacies are excludied from preferred networks.

"The exclusion of independent community pharmacies from preferred pharmacy networks may create access issues for some patients," Schweers said in a statement.

"Independent pharmacies are predominately located in underserved rural and inner-city locations. Over 1,800 independent community pharmacies operate as the only retail pharmacy within their rural community."

He added, "More than any other pharmacy option, independent community pharmacies are a critical source of jobs and tax revenue to their local community. When prescriptions are filled there, those dollars stay in the community, as opposed to being sent out of state or paid out to shareholders." 

—This post was updated with Schweers's statement at 3:45 p.m.