Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy and Manufacturers Spar over Drug Discounts

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacy and Manufacturers Spar over Drug Discounts

Article excerpt

Retail pharmacy groups are crowing that the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association no longer is asserting that passage of equal access to discount legislation would inevitably lead to higher prices for hospitals, mail order, and managed care insurers.

A recent videotape that PhRMA produced for viewing by state legislators does not contain such an assertion, which had been a staple pharmaceutical industry argument. At a media briefing to preview the video (Drug Topics, March 20), Stephen R. Conafay, a PhRMA executive v.p., said, "it's tough to speculate" on the impact of the discount legislation, which has been introduced in more than two dozen states. He also expressed the view that enactment would not "necessarily" lead to higher prices.

"This new admission by PhRMA that equal access to discounts may not result in higher prices should be welcome news to those who have collaborated with them to oppose equal access legislation," said Charles M. West, NARD executive v.p. Ronald Ziegler, president of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, stated: "The entire marketplace should be allowed to compete fairly on a level playing field. We, and millions of consumers, would welcome hospitals, HMOs, mail-order drug firms, and other organizations to the kind of fiercely competitive marketplace that retail pharmacies participate in every day."

Whether PhRMA has changed its beliefs or merely its lobbying tactics was not immediately clear. Asked for comment, a PhRMA spokesman replied: "The information in our videotape represents our position. …

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