In anticipation of a vote on drug pricing legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, more than 40 independent grocery companies and state associations signed a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking that the House fix direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and bring about reforms and transparency to pharmacy benefit managers. In a letter dated Oct. 17, representatives from the independent supermarket industry advocated for an end to retroactive DIR fees and outlined the harm they say these fees have had on independent pharmacies.
“Independent supermarkets operate approximately 3,000 pharmacies across the country and are a vital component to keeping America’s communities vibrant and healthy. Pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees have had a significant impact on our ability to conduct business and serve our communities. In many of the towns we serve, our pharmacies are one of the few options available for Medicare Part D beneficiaries to fill their prescriptions,” the letter says.
Independent grocery pharmacies have experienced DIR fee increases between 85 percent and 250 percent over the last year alone, and recent studies have shown that independent pharmacies are closing at a 3.5 to 4 percent rate per annum—and rising.
Within the letter, independent grocers also urged the Speaker to include DIR reforms and necessary transparency for pharmacy quality measures in any drug pricing legislation that is advanced in the House of Representatives.
The letter also says, “A legislative fix is necessary to end retroactive DIR fees and help ensure independent pharmacies like ours can continue to serve communities across the United States by providing beneficiaries with access to the prescription drugs they need.
“These reforms will save patients billions of dollars, eliminate the economic pressures and uncertainties faced by our pharmacies and move the Medicare Part D program in the right direction towards better quality and overall improved beneficiary health,” the letter says.