Medco CEO's "Robots vs. Pharmacists" Remarks Continue to Raise Eyebrows and Ire
10/19/2011 10:37 AM
Pharmacy Times is the most recent publication to report on the revealing remarks by Medco CEO David Snow at a Cleveland Clinic healthcare conference earlier this month. NACDS says the remarks provide insights into the thinking of Express Scripts and Medco that relate directly to fears surrounding the proposed mega-merger of the two companies.
In an article titled "Medco CEO Under Fire for Anti-Retail Remarks," Pharmacy Times noted that Snow's remarks "came amidst ongoing criticism from pharmacists, consumer advocates, and more than 25 state attorneys general tha Medco's proposed merger with Express Scripts violates antitrust laws," and that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently investigating the proposed deal.
As originally reported by Pharmaceutical Executive magazine, Snow said: "I'm not dissing retail [pharmacy], but there's a fiction that a pharmacist comes out and dialogues with you. In reality, a high school student hands you a script from the shelf." He also said that Medco's "robots" are "twenty-three times more accurate" than human pharmacists.
In response to a request from Pharmaceutical Executive, NACDS provided the following statement, from which Pharmaceutical Executive - and then Pharmacy Times - drew quotes for their stories:
These comments are a window into the true thinking of the companies that are seeking to merge. If there were any doubt about their intent to impose mandatory mail order on more patients, depriving patients of their choice of pharmacies, then these comments should erase such doubt at this point.
When it serves their purposes, such as under tough questioning at a September 20 Congressional hearing, these companies speak of their partnership with community pharmacy. Then, they turn around and devalue and disparage community pharmacy. One has to wonder about what their true intent means for patients, employers and health plans.
Conflicting statements like these give no reason for confidence on other issues, which is why consumer groups and members of Congress have expressed skepticism that a new mega-PBM would pass along to patients, employers and health plans any of its cost-savings – if there are any savings at all.
The reality is that there is no greater value in patient care than community pharmacy. North Carolina’s ChecKmeds NC program is one example of how face-to-face medication therapy management services for Medicare patients have helped to deliver a return-on-investment of $13.55 for every $1 invested.
Americans trust their community pharmacists and find them to be highly accessible. Pharmacists have ranked in the top three each of the past eight years of the annual Gallup survey of integrity across professions. In a poll conducted by Charlton Research Company, pharmacists rated as the most trustworthy source on health and medical research issues. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that Americans report the least amount of difficulty in accessing care from pharmacists compared with others in healthcare delivery.
These comments reinforce the belief that patient choice and prevention of an anti-competitive environment are worth fighting for.