COA White Paper Exposes Delay, Waste, and Cancer Treatment Obstacles Imposed on Patients by Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Compilation of True Patient-PBM Stories Released and Discussed at 2017 Community Oncology Conference

A new white paper released today by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) and the Community Oncology Pharmacy Association (COPA) exposes the negative impact pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have on the care cancer patients receive.

Compiling real stories of cancer patients and physicians, the white paper “Delay, Waste, and Cancer Treatment Obstacles: The Real-Life Patient Impact of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM)” was released today at the opening of the 2017 Community Oncology Conference.

Presenting true patient stories collected from community oncology practices over the last year, the white paper details common PBM practices that have a negative impact on cancer patient care. The serious, sometimes dangerous, stories told in the paper include the delay of treatment for as much as six weeks, unaccountable PBM bureaucracies, unethical business practices, and incredible waste.

“As new drugs become available and treatment options improve, cancer patients can have better outcomes than ever before,” said Joshua Cox, PharmD, director of pharmacy, Dayton Physicians Network, and the Community Oncology Pharmacy Association (COPA) co-chair. “PBMs are presenting obstacles to care, often life-saving care, that can halt and even reverse that trend. For many patients to delay treatment can be the same as denying treatment.”

The paper was presented during a special joint session at the 2017 Community Oncology Conference, “Pharmacy Benefit Managers: Profits Over Patients.” The session’s panel discussion featured the Honorable Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, U.S. House of Representatives (R-GA); Steven D’Amato, BS Pharm, Executive Director, New England Cancer Specialists; and Jonathan E. Levitt, Esq., Founding Partner, Frier Levitt. Dr. Cox moderated the session.

“PBMs effectively control access to treatment in our nation’s health care system. For cancer patients waiting for or being denied desperately needed, life-saving drugs, PBMs have shown themselves to have a real, negative impact on care,” said Ted Okon, executive director of COA. “No one can read these PBM horror stories and think the current stranglehold these corporations have on our health care system is a good thing. It is time to stop PBM abuses. Not one more patient should suffer because of these unaccountable corporations.”

The 2017 Community Oncology Conference offers three distinct agenda tracks with content covering clinical, business, and patient advocacy topics. This year, the Conference also features an abbreviated pharmacy track which will cover a wide variety of in-office pharmacy roadblocks and legal issues, including specialty pharmacy accreditation, PBMs, oral medication management, and more. The conference is currently taking place April 27-28 in National Harbor, MD, right outside of Washington, DC.