Senate Judiciary Subcommittee To Investigate Express Scripts/ESI Merger Today

2:30 PM Hearing On Whether Proposed Mega-PBM Merger Would Create Cost Savings For Consumers Or More Profits For The Middlemen

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- This afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing to investigate the proposed merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions, two pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies.  The hearing entitled, "The Express Scripts/Medco Merger: Cost Savings for Consumers or More Profits for the Middlemen?" gives subcommittee members the opportunity to ask important questions about a plan that has already been the subject of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee hearing and is currently under review by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

As the hearing title suggests, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hopes to determine who would benefit from an approved merger.  There is rapidly growing, widespread concern among elected officials including attorneys general in dozens of states, pharmacy service providers, consumer advocates, patient advocates, Members of Congress and others that an approved merger would give the consolidated, mega-PBM unfettered market power and would actually increase costs for consumers, while decreasing the quality of care.  The Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) coalition has echoed these concerns to Members of Congress and others.

"When considering a deal like this where access and affordability of health care are on the line for tens of millions of Americans, increased scrutiny is essential -- and I applaud subcommittee members for taking a closer look to determine who exactly would benefit from this merger," said former Congresswoman Eva M. Clayton, chairwoman of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN) coalition.  "I think that after close examination, they will determine that an approved merger is not in the best interest of patients, employers or health care in America -- and should be stopped."

Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. are two of the nation's three largest PBMs.  An approved merger would give the consolidated PBM excessive control over the health care plans of millions of Americans.  This would result in higher costs for prescription medications and decreased access to local community pharmacies that provide convenient and helpful services.

"Americans -- particularly those in minority and lower-income communities -- continue to be in a very vulnerable state as we all struggle to recover from the recent financial crisis," Clayton continued.  "Approving a merger between Express Scripts and Medco that would lead to higher prices for lesser quality care would only make things harder.  This is not something that should be taken lightly."

Click here to access a live webcast of the hearing.

Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! is a coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists from across the country that have come together for the purpose of opposing the planned merger between Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc.  PCPAN is a project of Pharmacy Choice and Access Now.

SOURCE Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! (PCPAN)