LETTER: Former Assemblyman & Pharmacist Daniel Burling on pharmacy issues

Dear Editor:

FingerLakes1 recently reported on struggling local pharmacies, and as a local pharmacist and former lawmaker, I’d like to add my perspective. During the COVID-19 pandemic community pharmacists have been critical to patient care in every corner of our state. As a former state legislator and current practicing pharmacist I have to wonder why our lawmakers continue to side with greedy multi-billion dollar Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) at the expense of small pharmacies and their patients?

PBMs wield immense power in the prescription drug market, and have become notorious for using it to profit off the rest of the healthcare industry—in particular independent pharmacists. In an attempt to level the playing field, many community pharmacists partner with pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs), using their services to have an amplified voice during contract negotiations.




Unsurprisingly, PBMs and their powerful lobby are trying to undermine any legislative attempts to regulate them. With more scrutiny on PBMs in New York and across the country, PBMs are looking to deflect blame and they are targeting PSAOs.

PSAOs are simply in business to protect and represent small, independent pharmacies that do not have the same corporate resources. PSAOs take on critical administrative burdens, like managing insurance claims, assisting with regulation, and providing central payment services, to make pharmacy operations more streamlined and efficient.

My former colleagues in the state legislature must learn from past experiences and protect small pharmacies. PBMs are a clear threat to the care independent pharmacists provide, and they will go to any length to protect their profits, even if it is at the expense of patients.

Daniel Burling
Former New York State Assemblyman

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