The National Community Pharmacists Association loudly applauded a class action lawsuit filed against vertically consolidated CVS Health, Caremark and Aetna that aims to recoup millions of dollars for independent pharmacies in what the lawyers say are wrongful back-end penalties for Medicare Part D prescriptions, otherwise known as pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees.
“It’s payback time,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “Finally, community pharmacies have a chance to recover DIR fees that were unfairly taken. PBMs have been gaming the system for a long time and it’s time to turn the tables.”
The lawsuit, announced today by the law firms Berger Montague PC and Cohen & Gresser LLP, claims that Caremark – the largest pharmacy benefit manager in the country and a subsidiary of Fortune 6 corporation CVS Health – has been assessing pharmacy DIR fees in violation of federal antitrust laws and state laws governing contracts. The lawsuit also challenges Caremark’s agreements to arbitrate claims as being unfair and unenforceable.
Lawyers from Berger Montague, Cohen & Gresser and another firm leading the cause will brief NCPA members at the organization’s annual convention in Orlando Oct. 14-17.
Hoey noted that DIR fees have risen by more than 107,400 percent in recent years, a trend that is driving many community pharmacies to the brink of insolvency.