NY officials are looking at CVS’ drug price swings

As the state of New York considers the pending $69 billion merger between retail pharmacy chain CVS Health and health insurance giant Aetna, CVS’ practices in drug pricing are coming under the microscope.

Pharmacy owners in New York have accused CVS’ pharmacy benefits manager (PBM), Caremark, of implementing wild drug pricing swings, The New York Post reported. PBMs are known as the middlemen in the pharmaceutical industry that negotiate drug prices between providers and health plans and drugmakers.

“It’s like dealing with the mob,” one pharmacy owner in Long Island, New York, told The Post. “I can leave my business and return the next day to learn that I’m being paid 70 percent less for the same drug I sold just 24 hours ago.”

New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo signaled that price gouging is a concern in a hearing about the CVS-Aetna deal, which has been cleared by the Department of Justice.

The deal has been opposed by several industry groups on the grounds that the combined entity will limit competition. Aetna is also required to divest its Medicare Part D prescription drug business in order for the deal to be completed, the DOJ ordered. 

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