Local pharmacy feeling squeeze from rising prescription prices

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The owner of Greene County's only privately owned pharmacy is feeling a little squeezed by escalating prescription prices for which he contends he has no control.

Jeff Doris, RPh, also reports that his store, Linton Family Pharmacy, is at a contract impasse with Aetna Insurance, Inc. and will no longer accept prescription coverage from that company.

Doris, who has owned the Linton Pharmacy at 60 A Street NW with his wife, Vicki, since 2006, said Aetna has refused to negotiate an equitable contract and has offered what he called "a take it or leave it" contract.

He asserts that Aetna has refused to agree to a reimbursement to cover the store's break-even costs of dispensing a prescription.

"Repeated attempts to communicate with Aetna and to arrive at a fair contract terms have failed. We are willing to serve Aetna members as long as we can break even on covering our costs of dispensing a prescription. The Aetna offer fell drastically below these costs," Doris explained.

The pharmasist/store owner said Aetna has offered a $1.15 dispensing fee.

"On top of that, they charge me fees for a claim whether it is paid for or not," he explained. "That's going to impact some people. There are a number of people that we provide delivery services to that are going to have to find some other way to get their prescriptions filled."

Doris admits to being frustrated with the contract breakdown and said he believes large insurance companies like Aetna often refuse to negotiate contract terms in good faith.

"They are all pretty much the same from a 'take it or leave it' standpoint," Doris told the Greene County Daily World.

The talks with Aetna broke down after four of five months of negotiations, Doris pointed out.

"They've offered a take it or leave it contract and we've tried to explain to them what we do that is different from everybody else -- the chain pharmacies Walmart and CVS -- and they are just not interested in it." Doris stressed that his store makes home deliveries and offers a custom prescription compounding service that is not offered by the chains because they are labor and detail sensitive.

He said about 94 percent of his store's prescription business is now covered by a third-party carrier -- like an insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid.

"There aren't really that many cash prescriptions left anymore," Doris stated.

"With regard to Aetna, we tried to secure what is called rural rates. Meaning when you are a small pharmacy out in the middle of nowhere sort of like we are they are willing to make an exception, but there were enough pharmacy that exempted them from offering us rural rates. So we were unable to secure a compromise there."

Doris continued, "In fact, many of these companies may hope community pharmacies don't survive so they can funnel all of their prescriptions through their less cost-effective mail-order prescription factories."

Doris said he takes offense that local pharmacies -- like the one he owns -- are often blamed for rising costs for prescription medications.

He said his store has no control over drugs costs.

Doris is also miffed that as manufacturer prices continue to rise, drug companies continue to spend millions of dollars on a lifestyle enhancing drugs direct to consumers on national television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and even costly NASCAR sponsorships.

"Patients are telling doctors what they want prescribed," he stressed.

He also linked cost increases to improvements in drugs that keep people out of hospitals; new drugs are now on the market to treat previously untreatable conditions; new drugs are available to treat illnesses more precisely and effective than in the past; and an aging population which cause the number of prescriptions to double every five years.

When asked what the answer is going to be for the small town pharmacy, Doris prefaced his answer by saying he had never been much of a political person, but noted, "What needs to change is the passage of collective bargaining laws where the pharmacies bargain as a collective unit."

He hopes that politics doesn't dampen his American Dream of operating his own business.

The federal collective bargaining legislation has been introduced in recent years, but had never got out of committee because of the political clout of the pharmaceutical and insurance companies, Doris pointed out.

"They are a lot more powerful than independent pharmacies without a doubt," he added.

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  • I can remember going to the corner drug store when I was a boy, and getting prescriptions filled for my grandmother. Back then for some reason or another just about all medicines were affordable, where you could just pay cash. If you were short on money that week, you could just say,"put it on my grandmothers bill", and walk out the door.

    Try that today and see what happens.

    -- Posted by andyandbarneyatmayberry on Tue, Jul 28, 2009, at 9:54 PM
  • Personally I wouldnt go to any other pharmacy than Linton Family Pharmacy. They are more friendly and personal than Wal-Mart or CVS. Plus they are family not a big chain who doesent care about you. The government needs to do something about the high cost of medicine. They worry about going to the moon, they should worry about the people who need their medication and cant afford them.

    -- Posted by Scorpio1969 on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 12:48 AM
  • What I'd like to see is our local pharmacy offering medical equipment and oxygen supplies. There is no close supplier -- the closest one is Terre Haute or Bloomington. Those companies offer good service, but there is an opporunity for people here to get great service from a local supplier and let that local supplier make the money instead of out-of-town supplier. I need oxygen and it has always bothered me that my money is being spent in TH rather than Linton. Linton Pharmacy already has the delivery car to deliver oxygen and medical supplies. I wonder if that is financially beneficial?

    -- Posted by Greenee on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 6:46 AM
  • Linton Family Pharmacy is absolutely the BEST! I have gotten all my medications from them for over 5 years now and wouldn't change to the other places in town! The service is beyond description and that is worth alot to me. Thanks to Jeff, Jennifer, April, Heather, Sara, Connie, and everybody else---you all are the wonderful.

    -- Posted by aunttique on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:47 AM
  • Linton Family Pharmacy does offer a wide variety of medical equipment, wound dressings, and mastectomy prostesis. The pharmacy has offered these services for many years. For some reason most people don't know that. Stop by and check out what they have to offer.

    -- Posted by greenerx on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:51 AM
  • The insurance companies will reimburse whatever they want, despite if it is right for the patients.

    Obamacare is going to hit us like a freight train. Already the democrats , led by Barney Frank, want to control pay of ALL CEO's with an oversite committee. That means that if a small business owner want to pay himself too much, based on groos margin, then the government could control the income of that owner (CEO).

    As much as we all want to support our local pharmacies, the new healthcare plan will funnel everyone into mailorder. Here is a link to many other links for people to read.

    The bottom line is...if we want to save the small businesses and have the best healthcare, then we need to tell our congressman , now! Stop the Obamacare plan or your Medicare and Medicaid will be cut and run like the VA.


    -- Posted by cow rancher on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 7:58 AM
  • I'm not sure how this is Obama's fault. Insurance companies running health care is a more likely culprit.

    -- Posted by sarah m on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:10 AM
  • Jeff has come out in the middle of the night for his customers when called. Would CVS, Walgreen, or Wal-Mart do that? You know the answer. This gives us something to look forward to in our "brave new world of health care" coming to all of us from Washington D.C.

    America is asleep or better yet the sheep are asleep!

    -- Posted by hamerdrop on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:22 AM
  • Although a shame this is nothing new as it's all the ever so typical corporate greed. The larger chains have more buying power and thus receive better incentives and also deal in such large volumes that adapting comes far less difficult for them to endure. Their sales volume also gives them much better leverage than the small business when it comes to negotiation. The larger chains love to see small businesses fail as it only serves their best interest, more greed money for them. Bottom line, it's all about the almighty dollar.

    It is long overdue that a cap be put in place for these greedy @#^&! or eventually there will be no more small businesses. Call it socialism or whatever but the fact is many small businesses are doomed under the current environment and will continue to die until something is done to prevent it from happening.

    By the way, I always use Linton Family Pharmacy and will continue to do so.

    -- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:05 AM
  • Dorinda---I agree with you that small businesses are going to be lost if things don't change. However, we are all at fault in creating this enviroment of big business. I commend you for shopping at LFP, but we all shop at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Dick's sporting goods,Best Buy and numerous other online places. Every time we by from these places we put one more nail in the coffin of small business. We are a society of convenenience and price. The american public talks out of both sides of its mouth. We want American made goods and products, and we want our people to be paid good American wages, and then we turn right around and complain about things costing too much. Products are made outside of this country because we have demanded that prices be low. We have created the enviroment that we live in and now we don't like it. It needs to change but it isn't gonna be easy. I hope that things can work out for LFP, because they do things that others can't and won't. But let's all think about things beyond the price tag when we go to purchase even the smallest item in the future.

    -- Posted by POP on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:26 AM
  • Very sad. I again encourage everyone to patronize and spend your dollars at the locally owned stores in town. Those dollars come right back into the community. People complain about jobs going overseas but are the first one in line at a big box store buying merchandise made overseas. Stop buying the stuff made in China and see watch the American Manufacturing Machine come back to life. A re-birth of the American economy and way of life has to start somewhere - why not Green County, Indiana?

    -- Posted by RDK on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:26 AM
  • POP, RDK, very good posts and so very true.

    -- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 11:41 AM

    -- Posted by susie on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 2:59 PM
  • We get our pills there because they are friendly, and Love the drive up!!! I would not go the Wal-mart and stand in line! I Love LFP!! Good Job Guys and Gals!!!

    -- Posted by dicus1960 on Wed, Jul 29, 2009, at 9:28 PM
  • Hang on, Obama is working. Hopefully, this country will have a working affordable health care system for all people with the right to choose a provider, pharmacy, hospital and make their own decisions regarding their health, not having them made by big money, big profit insurance companies..

    -- Posted by GreeneCtyRN on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 3:41 AM
  • You are fooling yourselves if you think Obamas plan is going to give you more choice on doctors or pharmacies. If you read the bill, there is a provision that states that once you choose the governments plan, then your network will be given to you, including mail order pharmacy.

    Be careful what you wish for as it might come true.

    -- Posted by cow rancher on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 9:31 AM
  • Anything is going to give most Americans more choice than they currently have--overpriced insurance policies with ridiculous premiums and copays that then refuse to pay any claim.

    Or, worse, not being able to afford insurance at all.

    Nearly every developed nation offers a form of socialized healthcare and most of their citizens love it. I haven't seen any of the forced abortions, widespread elderly euthanasia, and healthcare collapse that Republicans seem to be predicting.

    Seems like more scare tactics from me from a party that is largely responsible for the economic and healthcare crisis we're currently experiencing.

    I know! Let's give more tax breaks to the wealthy, huge corporations, and big pharm and hope that the windfall will trickle down to us taxpayers (who are subsidizing the above). It's worked so well the past 30 years, why change?

    -- Posted by sarah m on Thu, Jul 30, 2009, at 11:05 AM
  • Why can we not blame OBAMA??? He is totally screwing up this country! It has been nothing but a mess since he got into office and it is only going to get worse! He has lied to the people in so many ways about alot of things and do you actually think he is going to start telling the truth now?? Get Real!!! In the long run he is probably getting some kind of kick back from the insurance companies.

    -- Posted by Scorpio1969 on Mon, Aug 3, 2009, at 10:08 AM
  • Scorpio1969, I hate to burst your bubble but this country was in an absolute mess long before Obama took office. It is not going to be an easy task cleaning up after the most foolish president in history.

    -- Posted by dorindaJ on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 2:04 PM
  • dorindaJ--- I hate to burst your bubble but this country was in an absolute mess long before the last president took office. Do you remember Hillary talking about a new health care plan? She was going to do really great things! Her husband had eight years for her to get it done. Didn't happen.

    GreenectyRN--wake up, get real.

    -- Posted by redriver on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 6:48 PM
  • redriver, believe me you're not bursting my bubble at all as I do realize this fact and never stated otherwise. However I still believe George W. Bush was the most foolish president ever to exist in this country and he and his administration most definitely left this nation in a state of unprecedented shambles regardless.

    -- Posted by dorindaJ on Tue, Aug 4, 2009, at 7:53 PM
  • President Bush was a great president and helped this country in so many ways. So far all I can say about Obama is his popularity is going down each day, and I see none of his promises being filled. Americans voted for Obama for the wrong reasons, this man has no clue how to run a country. Red, yellow, white or black this man should never been elected.

    -- Posted by Carson_drew on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 12:58 AM
  • "President Bush was a great president and helped this country in so many ways."

    Omg, you can't be serious ....

    -- Posted by dorindaJ on Wed, Aug 5, 2009, at 8:55 AM
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