PBMs Dominate Online Prescription Drug Sales
Pharmacy benefit managers are outpacing Internet pharmacies in the growing online prescription drug market, in part because of their increased control over prescription drug purchasing, the New York Times reports. PBMs -- which operate health plans' prescription benefit programs, sell members drugs and designate which drug stores their members can buy from at reduced prices -- do not face serious online competition from drug store chains because the chains are reluctant to risk getting shut out of the PBMs' group of member drug retailers, the Times reports. Analysts say Medco Health, Merck's PBM unit, is the biggest online seller of prescription drugs, with more than $1 billion in drug sales during the first 10 months of this year. Overall, online pharmacies, which account for only one-fifth of the mail-order drug industry, will generate $2.8 billion in prescription sales this year, plus $900 million in over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, according to a study by Forrester Research. Those numbers should more than double next year, Forrester predicts (Tedeschi, New York Times, 12/16).
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