ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Pharmacy Direct Network here has signed its first managed care contract with Fuji Photo Film, Elmsford, N.Y. PDN is a pharmacy benefit management company representing community pharmacies, including many in supermarkets.
The contract, which takes effect Jan. 1, covers U.S.-based employees of Fuji Photo Film and their families, said Robert Pfotenhauer, chief executive officer of PDN.
Participation in the PDN plan will be one of several options available to Fuji employees, said Cathy Richardson, benefits administrator at Fuji Photo Film. She said she expected about 500 employees and their families to opt for the PDN program.
Previously the company's prescription drug benefit program was administered by PCS Health Systems, Scottsdale, Ariz., said Richardson.
Among the factors that made PDN attractive, said Richardson were: "the pricing, the fact that they are not a large conglomerate and the lack of service on the part of PCS." That much of the company's business is through drug stores was also a factor, said Richardson.
Fuji Film "has been serving retail pharmacies and was responsive to PDN and our efforts," said Pfotenhauer. "We were able to convince them that we can offer a more cost-effective service.
"Potentially, there may be some additional contracts" with Jan. 1 effective dates, said Pfotenhauer.
PDN has about 32,000 pharmacies in its network, including many supermarket pharmacies.
PDN is moving forward on a number of other fronts as well.
"We're spending a lot of time on product development," said Pfotenhauer. "We will have some announcements in a few weeks. We think we're going to capture the imagination of payers interested in cost-effective solutions.
"We are creating products that can compete in a capitated environment," said Pfotenhauer, adding that reimbursement to individual pharmacies will not be capitated. "Payers are moving to capitation," an arrangement in which risk is shared, he said.
PDN is also extending its membership drive. "We have been urged by members to expand the network," said Pfotenhauer.
Looking ahead, Pfotenhauer said relationships between pharmacy benefit management companies, or PBMs, and community pharmacies will become more critical, a trend that he maintained favors an organization such as PDN, with its close ties to community pharmacy.
"PDN is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the powerful impact that front-line pharmacists can have on the drug utilization patterns of the American public," said Pfotenhauer.
Feedback from a series of regional meetings that PDN has held around the country reveals that pharmacists are not happy with the current relationships they have with other PBMs, said Pfotenhauer. "Pharmacists feel that the practices of PBMs are one-sided," benefiting the PBM at the expense of the pharmacy, "and do not return value," he said.
For example, Pfotenhauer said, it's not uncommon for a PBM to implement a program designed so the first script is filled at a retail pharmacy, but then mail-order is mandated. Patients will still require cognitive services, and the retail pharmacy typically will continue to provide services, but receives no reimbursement.
Other PBMs, said Pfotenhauer, "face a dilemma in how to partner with community pharmacists who now view them in a hostile fashion. They are also not focused on the utilization side of health care, which will be a far more critical factor going into the future," he said.