Last week, California pharmacies filed a legal action against OptumRx alleging patient steering and violations of California law by paying low reimbursement rates.

Independent pharmacies allege that OptumRx is paying them substantially less than to chain pharmacies and Optum’s mail-order pharmacy for the same prescriptions. Pharmacies also complain that OptumRx reimburses them below acquisition cost.

Mark Cuker from Jacobs Law Group represents the pharmacies. This is not the first case filed by Mark, in which he represents the interest of independent pharmacies. In May, 2020, he filed a similar action in Pennsylvania and Illinois. In 2015, he also filed a similar action against Catamaran for breach of contract and bad faith in setting prices for prescription drugs.

Jacobs Law Group’s press release regarding the case explains:

“Sometimes for a prescription filled by the pharmacy, Optum charges the patient’s health care plan the brand price while paying pharmacies the lower generic price for each prescription. This allows Optum to collect huge profits on prescriptions merely by changing their classification.

Optum built a wall of secrecy around its conduct by forcing network pharmacies into confidentiality agreements that conceal the truth – specifically how much Optum is paid by insurance plans for prescriptions, how much Optum receives in rebates from drug manufacturers, and how little Optum pays to pharmacies who actually serve the patients and dispense the drugs.

Optum illegally takes patient information it receives from independent pharmacies through the claims process and uses it to steer those customers to Optum’s own mail-order pharmacy.

The survival of independent pharmacies in the U.S. healthcare system is seriously threatened by the unethical, predatory business practices of PBMs. This lawsuit seeks to break this wall of secrecy and hold Optum accountable.”

We will continue covering the developments in the case.