Independent neighborhood pharmacies – which have long been cornerstones of their communities across Wisconsin – are being choked out. Since last year, more than 90 Wisconsin neighborhood pharmacies were forced to close. Many more had to let employees go or reduce their hours in order to remain open to serve patients.
It’s not due to competition from chain pharmacies.
While most businesses purchase inventory and recoup those costs when they sell products to customers, the prescription drug distribution system is different. Pharmacies have no say in what patients pay for drugs, and recoup their costs through reimbursements they receive from PBMs.
PBMs decide how much pharmacies are reimbursed for the drugs they dispense, and can change those rates as often as they want without warning. In recent years, reimbursement rates have steadily declined, with independent pharmacies often recouping less than what they paid for drugs.
According to a 2019 survey conducted by Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, abusive PBM practices are taking a serious toll on community pharmacy, resulting in employee layoffs, reduced operating hours and scrambling to meet the demands of patient care as reimbursements continue to be cut.
An attack on community pharmacies is really an attack on patients, because patients turn to their pharmacies for questions and assistance with their medications. When a pharmacy is forced to close its doors, patients are forced to find other options - which sometimes includes not filling a prescription at all if the nearest pharmacy is 10 or more miles away.
What is the fix?
Greater oversight, regulatory requirements and transparency are the keys to reining in the enormous power of the PBM middlemen.
Enacting AB100 is a step in the right direction toward better care for Wisconsin patients and their pharmacies. We urge you to contact your senator and your local representative and ask them to support AB100.