Pa. bill aims to help independent pharmacies

PHILADELPHIA - October 20, 2011

Pharmacists say it will help them compete with larger mail-order pharmacies and keep their customers, like Harvey Silverstein. He has been getting his prescriptions filled at his neighborhood drugstore, Nisenholtz Pharmacy, for more than 20 years.

"I know I'm getting the right prescriptions and I just, just trust them," Silverstein said.

But not everyone has that choice. Some insurance companies require people to fill their medication prescriptions through mail-order pharmacies.

Now a proposed bill in Pennsylvania aims to change that, and independent pharmacists are campaigning to push the bill through.

"The bill is basically not saying 'no more mail order.' It's giving people the choice," said Jim Reginelli of Nisenholtz Pharmacy.

Reginelli says the bill would level the playing field another way: all retail and independent pharmacies would be able to offer the same number of drugs for the same cost as mail order.

Opponents of the bill say, overall, it will drive up costs because mail order pharmacies get discounts for bulk orders.

Reginelli disagrees and says independent pharmacies can offer drugs at the same cost, plus provide vital personal interaction with consumers.

"They rely on me, they rely on my staff to talk to them about compliance, about interactions, if they're having problems. We can react quickly to a problem they may be having and that's not going to happen through mail order," Reginelli said.

Reginelli also says the bill will save local jobs and keep tax revenue in the state.

Similar bills have passed in other states.

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