United Health Group’s acquisition of Change Healthcare will likely harm competition and lead to increased prescription drug prices and poorer patient outcomes, according to a letter from American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc. (APCI) to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In its September 29 letter to the department, APCI not only opposed the proposed acquisition but also called for greater scrutiny of UHG and its pharmacy benefit manager subsidiary Optum, including treatment and use of healthcare data and any actions taken to steer business into their market channels either directly or through affiliates.
In the 10-page letter, APCI Director of Healthcare Policy and General Counsel Reybold wrote:
Community pharmacy has seen and felt firsthand the anticompetitive effects of industry consolidation and vertical integration in the prescription drug market and those effects include inefficiency, poorer patient outcomes, and increased prices by way of arcane trade secreted reimbursement methodologies, restrictive rebate practices that do not pass savings back to patients at the drug counter and exclude medications from formularies, and patient steering to PBM owned/affiliated pharmacies.
Reybold also said the co-op is committed to leading the battle for a fairer, more transparent prescription drug system and part of that fight includes taking a stand against further healthcare consolidation in an industry of giants.
“Consolidation in the healthcare space has wrought less competition, less transparency, and less patient choice. Sensitive patient data is exploited and leveraged by large PBMs to move patients into their market channels. It is time to press pause on further healthcare consolidation and take action to stop the anticompetitive practices ravaging the prescription drug markets,” Reybold said.
APCI’s advocacy team includes long-time Director of Legislative Affairs Bill Eley; Director of Healthcare Policy and General Counsel Greg Reybold; and the Government Affairs team at Arent Fox. APCI is proud to lead the fight for prescription drug reform working with this team as well as other industry leaders and disruptors including 3 Axis Advisors.
APCI is a member-owned cooperative of 1,700 member pharmacies in 30 states. Established in 1984 and headquartered in Bessemer, Ala., APCI’s mission is to protect and promote the interests of independent pharmacy. APCI enables its member pharmacies to improve their positions in a competitive marketplace with an extensive offering of exceptional services and comprehensive programs.