Prescription middlemen hurt local health care

Updated 5/12/2021 12:10 PM

Three decades ago, there were three independent pharmacies in downtown Naperville. In 2021, Oswald's Pharmacy is the only one that remains. The others have closed or transformed into specialized pharmacies to survive. What could have caused this? How could Naperville and thousands of similar communities let local pharmacies fall by the wayside? The answer: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

PBMs are the middlemen in the prescription drug market. They're in business to manage prescription medication plans for insurers, large employers and the government. Too long they've acted to the detriment of small independent pharmacies by not reimbursing us properly and cutting deals with chains. This has forced local pharmacies to fill prescriptions at a loss.


PBMs shouldn't be making it harder for pharmacies to dispense medications to patients. Their tactics drive up costs and make health care less accessible by putting local family-owned pharmacies out of business.

Pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs) try making our lives easier by handling the administrative work and negotiations with PBMs, so we focus on patient care. However, PBMs' influence is far too great and they remain a threat to small businesses across the country.

PBMs need to be regulated to allow pharmacies to best serve our patients. PBMs negotiate directly with chain pharmacies to ensure maximum profitably at a cost that damages local businesses.

Corporate profits from chains in communities across the country do not help the communities the profit came from. Locally owned businesses, however, give back to their communities not just through tax dollars and jobs, but through charitable contributions to schools, churches, clubs and other organizations.

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PBMs aren't just hurting the people who own or work at the pharmacies they're putting out of business. They're hurting entire towns that lose pharmacies who actually care about their community.

Owner Alex Anderson and other staff of Oswald's Pharmacy


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