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Independent Pharmacists Push For Greater Oversight Of Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Rich Pedroncelli

Local pharmacists say time is running out for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would rein in pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.  

They negotiate drug purchases for insurers and prescription plans. PBMs also decide how much pharmacies are reimbursed for the drugs they sell.

“The reason they are going to CVS or RiteAid is because the PBM is making them go there. I, as an independent pharmacy, cannot fill their maintenance drugs anymore. They need to get it through the PBM, which is mail order through the PBM or go to their concrete store in town to get their medicine. That’s where I am losing my business,” said Bob Grisnik, owner of Southrifty Drugs in Southampton Village.

Grisnik claims PBMs allow chain pharmacies to sell prescription drugs at lower cost, saying that’s caused a sharp sales decline for him in recent years.

Steve Moore, board president of Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, wants Cuomo to step in.

“This middleman that has been largely responsible for the lion's share of the increase of drug prices in the last few years – kind of unmasking them and bringing their practices to light has been an incredible challenge, and it’s something we need to do. Now that we know who they are and what their practices do, we can license and regulate them.”

Grisnik and Moore spoke on WSHU’s The Full Story. 

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.