Strength in unity is their prescribed motto, hope

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James Berklan
James Berklan

Growing up, we had a saying when we wanted to cross a busy street but couldn't catch a break from drivers. “C'mon,” one of us would gamely yell, while pulling the others onto the roadway, “there's safety in numbers!” OK, so I still do it on occasion and sometimes we shout, “There's strength in numbers!”

I'm sure it's not an original saying. Probably just a naïve children's adoption of an exhortation meant for “older people” things such as civil protests or other noble causes. 

But it had its desired effect and taught us as children, whether deservedly or not, that if we just stuck together, we could change minds and get where we wanted to go.

It must be a sentiment similar to what a certain group of independent long-term care pharmacies has been thinking lately. Unless your name starts with Omni or PharMer and you're an LTC pharmacy provider, you aren't in any position to kick sand on anyone's blanket by yourself.

Until now, perhaps. The hope is that the newly formed Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition will be able to stand up for itself in the rough-and-tumble world of public policy and lawmaking. SCPC had its coming out the first week of January and with 30 member companies, which serve about 325,000 residents across 40 states, it already is turning heads.

Its hope is to stand up for the smaller independent LTC pharmacist, and better position all LTC institutional pharmacies against retail pharmacies — and against meddlesome pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). The latter, as SCPC members see it, are basically just middlemen grabbing unfair amounts of government dollars at the expense of professional pharmacists and patients.

SCPC includes Guardian Pharmacy Services, Remedi SeniorCare, NeighborCare and others. Nos. 1 and 2 in LTC pharmacy services, Omnicare and PharMerica, hold about 50% of the market. But of approximately 1,000 other LTC pharmacies, none has as much as 2%, according to SCPC President and CEO Alan Rosenbloom. That's where the unity theme enters. A lone slim finger can be vulnerable. But a fistful of fingers? That's a different story.

Daily Dispensing Fees, so loved by pharmacy benefits managers? They're target No. 1. And Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) pricing? Also on the hit list, Rosenbloom says. 

Whether he and SCPC will be successful, we'll have to wait and see. But their odds have to be better now that they've pulled together.