For more than 40 years Sedgwick Pharmacy has been a staple in Kingsbridge Heights.
However, 38-year old Adam Agovino, who now co-owns the pharmacy his father once owned, is worried it might not be around another 40 years.
Agovino and independent pharmacy owners like him believe the problem lies with Pharmacy Benefit Management companies or PBM’s.
“PBM’s act as the middle man between your insurance and the pharmacies,” said Dr. Adam Agovino.
PBM’s also decide how much pharmacies are reimbursed by insurers when customers buy medication.
“The problem with that,” Agovino said, “is that independent pharmacies are sometimes getting paid less by the insurer than it costs them to fill an order.”
Agovino said that PBM’s are making more money than ever.
“They are making hundreds of millions of dollars doing this and that’s not an exaggeration," said Agovino.
On Tuesday, pharmacists from NYC traveled to Albany in the hopes of getting legislators’ support for taking PBM’s out of Medicaid managed care.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which advocates on behalf of PBM’s, insists that while drug makers are the ones that set prices, PBM's reduce prescription drug costs and fairly compensate pharmacies.
When the New York City Pharmacists Society took a survey in January, 99% of the 532 local pharmacies they surveyed said that they were worried PBM’s might jeopardize their business.
Agovino has had to make some changes. That includes cutting hours for the pharmacy’s 18 local employees, some of whom have been with the business for decades.
“It’s worrisome for a lot of people. I just think it’s grimy,” said Victoria Arya, who has worked at Sedgwick Pharmacy for 23 years.
That news doesn't sit well with the store’s loyal customers.
“I think it’s unfair. Sedgwick Pharmacy has been here for years and years and people trust this place,” said another customer.
Agovino said that he and his partner are far from throwing in the towel.
They promise to do whatever it takes to make sure the business is around for years to come.