In the wake of Amazon’s desire to enter the healthcare field as a serious player a while back, there has been a ‘merger splurge’ taking place that will have a far-reaching effect on patient care and health outcomes.

Organizations involved in this frenzy involve a wide spectrum of entities from pharmacy companies, insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, health plans and retailers in the tech industry, clothiers and even a bank.

One wonders about the true motivations for creating such ‘partnerships.’

Below is a list of the recently proposed mergers that I am aware of, the types of organizations involved and the perspective purchase prices.

I have done considerable research on these mergers to determine the reasons for such acquisitions. Some appear to be driven by the fear of Amazon’s entry into the pharmaceutical business and the disruption it may cause in health care.

I do not purport to be as tech savvy as my millennial daughters. However, as difficult as it is for some of us boomers to think we are behind the curve, I do believe leveraging current and future technological advances may make the dispensing process more efficient. This will create opportunities for pharmacists to be more directly involved with patient care and improve health outcomes.

I am hopeful that this mega triumvirate would invite appropriate members of the pharmacy profession into the process as they develop their ‘new and improved health care system.’

It is imperative that the profession educate these innovative thinkers about the role the pharmacist can play in an integrated model. How vital we are in creating a more effective health care system. How appropriate pharmacist provided medication management would have a major impact on increased employee productivity and diminished absenteeism. Ultimately, the savings for these parent companies would be huge, just by improving patients health with regard to medications.

Of the other mergers considered, I found no reasons other than those routinely quoted in standard business models. The mergers are aimed at increasing foot traffic and sales by having a greater number of store outlets. Creating more enrollees in a particular health plan. Forcing patients to use a specific pharmacy chain to secure prescriptions.

Nowhere during the research did I find any goal statements about lowering prescription medication prices, decreased patient co-pays, saving patients out of pocket expenses and lastly IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF PATIENT CARE WITHIN THE SYSTEM!

So what is a potential solution?

Current legislation to make pharmacists providers (HR 592 and S109) has solid sponsorship in the House and Senate. They are being discussed as part of a way to curb the opioid crisis.

Whether you are a health care professional or consumer, contact your legislators. Urge them to strongly support inclusion of these bills in any legislation in the fight against the current opioid crisis……

If these bills reach the floor for a separate vote, communicate to them that passage into law will allow patients access to the expertise of one of the most trusted health professionals, decrease medication related problems and their associated health costs, and increase positive health outcomes in the community.

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