ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Local pharmacists say they could be put out of business if the government doesn't regulate a system that gives big companies an unfair advantage.
Many Medicare recipients are essentially being forced to get their prescriptions through the mail instead of face to face from the pharmacist they trust.
Pharmacist David Hayes has been in business for more than 30 years, and has invested large amounts of money into Albany. However, he may no longer be able to, if the government doesn't regulate companies from sending prescription mail orders to some of his Medicare Part "D" patients.
Hayes says Pharmacy benefit Manager companies (PBM's) are sending out letters that say if patients don't switch, premiums will go up. They automatically enroll patients in the mail program. Hey says print at the bottom says they have to call to cancel.
"We're dealing with ladies and gentlemen that are 70, 80,. 90 years old," Hayes noted. "They have trouble reading the letters much less reading the fine print. It's killing retail pharmacy independent and chain. We're out here dying."
He says the confidential information the the companies are using to contact patients is illegal. Its' also caused Hayes to lose about 60% of his business over the past several years.
"That's supposed to be illegal. Number one, that is hipaa private information. They're using that data against me and the government won't stop it," Hayes said.
Hayes explaiend that PBMS and Insurance companies use patient information to make up contracts that look appealing to the customer.
Patients can get a 90 day supply of medication through mail order but they can only get a 30 day supply at their local pharmacy which costs pharmacists more money and people don't have a much control as to where they get their medication.
In the long run, Hayes says it's unfair competition, and in order for patients to see a pharmacist face to face they'll have several co-pays to dig through.
Haye's also says he makes sure his medication is always the correct temperature- no hotter than 80 degrees and no cooler than 50 degrees. When it's in the mail, he says there's no telling how high or low the temperatures may reach.
Hayes says he's taken his concerns to our congressmen. He hasn't received any detailed answers, but he promises to continue to seek government regulation of companies that manage mail order prescriptions.