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The National Community Pharmacists Association yesterday asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate CVS Caremark for what it says is anticompetitive behavior, and asked the FTC to reconsider the 2007 merger between CVS and pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) Caremark.

At issue is the way CVS appears to be “steering its pharmacy-benefits patients to its own drugstores by raising co-payments for some who fill their prescriptions at other pharmacies,” according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

PBMs have long had a practice of offering patients different kinds of incentives to deal with their mail-order operations but at issue is the way CVS Caremark is seen as penalizing people for not using its mail order operation or in-store pharmacies.

CVS, which has acknowledged that its pricing program has improved its pharmacy sales, says that it is "making pharmacy health care more accessible, more effective and more affordable," and that the independent pharmacists are mischaracterizing its program.

The FTC has not yet commented on the complaint.

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