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Wyoming County Pharmacist to Testify at DC Hearing

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Location: Washington, DC

Wyoming County community pharmacist Joseph Lech will testify at a subcommittee hearing tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

Lech, owner of five community pharmacies, is one of six witnesses who will offer input on the proposed merger between Express Scripts and Medco. The agreement, announced on July 21, is valued at $29.1 billion and would consolidate two of the three largest pharmacy benefit management firms.

The Tunkhannock resident and pharmacist will provide testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building.

Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, is a member of the subcommittee and has expressed his concerns about the proposed merger between pharmacy benefit management giants Express Scripts and Medco.

Lech, a pharmacist for 30 years, operates five drugstores in the 10th Congressional District -- Tunkhannock, Laceyville, Nicholson, Dushore and Canton. He is a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Marino introduced HR 1946, the Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act, a bill that would allow independent pharmacies to join together to negotiate for better terms with the PBMs. The bill is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee and has been endorsed by both the Association of Community Pharmacists Congressional Network and National Community Pharmacists Association.

The congressman said the proposed merger could "worsen the problem and ultimately lead to increased costs and decreased quality of care."

"At a time when I am fighting to give our independent community pharmacies the tools to better compete against large corporations, this merger raises a number of serious questions and concerns," Marino said. "Hometown pharmacies are already at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to negotiating with the PBMs."

Lech will testify that the merger would create a "mega PBM" that would eventually "harm patients by reducing choice, decreasing access to pharmacy services and ultimately leading to higher prescription drug costs…"


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