Prescription Drug Pricing:

Implications for Retail Pharmacies

T-HEHS-96-216: Published: Sep 19, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1996.

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GAO discussed the implications of prescription drug pricing for retail pharmacies, focusing on the: (1) changes in the process of getting prescription drugs from manufacturers to patients; and (2) consequences for and response of retail pharmacies to these changes. GAO noted that: (1) health insurers have used their consolidated buying power to obtain drug discounts not available to retail pharmacies; (2) health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) use the size of their member populations as leverage to help reduce the amounts that they reimburse pharmacies for prescriptions dispensed to those populations; (3) retail pharmacies have been facing increased competition from mail order pharmacies; and (4) retail pharmacies have responded to the changes in pharmaceutical pricing by waging lawsuits against leading drug manufacturers and wholesalers, developing more competitive strategies for gaining business, and campaigning for legislative action.

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