Just when we thought we had seen the worst of the recent economic downturn, the local economy is likely to get yet another jolt from a little-talked-about merger that is winding its way through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The merger is in the area of pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) companies, and involves two of the largest companies in the business: Express Scripts, Inc., and Medco. If this goes through, the emerging company will be the elephant in the room when it comes to PBMs.
Fears are that this kind of consolidation of power will have ramifications beyond driving up the prices of medicine for patients. It might also trigger the closure of pharmacies, both locals and chains, which will be hard pressed to compete with this mail order giant.
What does that mean for our little corner of the earth? If the merger happens, you might be getting your prescriptions by mail order. For those who like their local pharmacist or rely on their pharmacy to have their blood pressure taken or to receive their vaccinations, you’ll have to come up with another plan – or maybe your postman can help. And I hope you like mail order medications.
For small businesses that provide health care to their employees, expect higher costs. With less competition in the PBM pool, your prices are bound to rise.
So with all of this downside, who’s the winner? Express Scripts, Inc., of course, which explains their desire to see this merger go through.