We can’t stay in business like this,” said Diane Milano, the owner and pharmacist of Chateau Drugs and Gifts.
NEW ORLEANS — Denise Schmidt recently had to try a few local pharmacies before getting her prescription filled. She finally got it filled at a large chain.
“It’s discouraging because I believe in shopping locally and, you see, I think they treat you better here because they get to know you over the years,” said pharmacy customer Denise Schmidt.
“The patients beg us, ‘Please, I don’t want to go to another store. I have a rapport here. We don’t want to leave,” said Diane Milano, Chateau Drugs and Gifts, owner and pharmacist.
At her drugstore, they have to turn down customers for certain drugs. The same thing happens at Majoria drugstore.
“We’ve been treating and taking care of these people for years, and years, decades, and the hardest thing is to go out and tell them I’m not going to be reimbursed, nowhere near continuing to treat you,” Dennis Bodungen explains. , Majoria owner and pharmacist.
Pharmacy Benefit Manager companies, or PBMs, are the intermediaries between medical insurance companies and pharmacies. They negotiate prices, or the amount that drugstores will pay for filling a prescription. There have been mergers, so three PBMs own about 90 percent of the market, which means there’s less competition. On many expensive drugs, such as those for diabetes or attention deficit disorder, they reimburse the pharmacy less than their cost. So the drugstores lose money every time they fill that prescription.
“They’ve gotten so bad this year that we’re under water on almost every brand name. So we have to reject them all. We can’t stay in business like this,” Milano said.
“So if you (drugstore) spend $1,000 on the drug, and they (PBMs) want to pay you $900, it’s hard to keep doing that,” said BJ Guidry, a Majoria pharmacist.
And they are not allowed to pass on those extra costs to the customers, even if some of them ask for it.
“If you do that with Medicaid, you’re under jail,” Milano said.
So to stay open, pay employees and keep the lights on, they stop filling certain drugs.
“These issues don’t just affect the independent (pharmacies) you know, I get calls from hospitals, pharmacies and hospitals. I mean, this is very, very far-reaching,” Milano said.
Local pharmacies say customers may need to get the expensive drugs from mail-order pharmacies. The PPE’s own them too, but people like Denise don’t want that. They want to be able to talk directly to a pharmacist about their personal health needs.
Eyewitness News asked the pharmacy benefit administrators’ attorney for an answer, but he said we couldn’t provide one. He forwarded our questions for a business answer. Eyewitness news heard nothing back.
RELATED: Mardi Gras ’23 Continues, But What Will It Look Like?
RELATED: Swimmer Holy Cross High School Raises Money for Sick Toddler
Click here to report a typo.
► Get the latest news from your area delivered straight to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.