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Mark Merritt: Florida policymakers should embrace pharmacy tools that reduce Rx costs for employers and consumers

In the fight to reduce prescription drug costs and improve quality, Florida employers, the state health plan, seniors and consumers have an ally in their corner with pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.

PBMs are hired to negotiate discounts from drug manufacturers and drugstores. They typically reduce prescription drug costs by 30 percent for employers and consumers, totaling savings of nearly $98 billion for Floridians over 10 years.

PBMs also increase savings by promoting generics and 90-day prescription drug refills.

Home delivery is popular with consumers because it costs less than a trip to the drugstore, is more convenient and offers private counseling over the phone from trained pharmacists seven days a week, 24-hours a day.

Florida legislators need to be wary of the drugstore lobby’s effort to impose mandates that would make it harder for employers to benefit from the savings that PBMs generate.

For example, during the last legislative session, the drugstore lobby tried to force employers to pay them higher rates. While such bills claim to protect patients they all lead to the same outcome: more money for drugstores.

Fortunately, Florida lawmakers recognized that the legislation’s cost burden and potential harm to patients’ health, so they were not passed. But the drugstore lobby will undoubtedly again try to get similar bills introduced when legislators return to Tallahassee.

 Mark Merritt is President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Manufacturers Association.

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