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THE WRONG MEDICINE FOR AMERICA: NARD MEMBERS ASSAIL MERCK-MEDCO MERGER PLAN

 ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's independent pharmacists have greeted Merck and Co.'s (NYSE: MRK) plans to merge with the nation's largest mail order drug company, Medco Containment Services, with nearly universal disdain and outrage, NARD, the national association representing independent retail pharmacy, said today.
 "We have spent the time since the announcement monitoring the reaction of our members," said NARD Executive Vice President Charles West. "The phones have been ringing off the hook, and the message is resoundingly clear: Our members feel nothing short of betrayed by Merck's decision to join forces with Medco. Whatever Merck's actual intent may be," continued West, "there is no escaping the fact that it appears that one of the nation's major manufacturers -- a supporter of independent pharmacy on many important issues -- has entered into an unholy alliance with a company best known to our members as the exemplar of substandard, unregulated mail order pharmacy.
 "The announcement hails the coming of something the two companies have dubbed as 'coordinated pharmaceutical care,'" said West. "But there is nothing `coordinated' about a faceless mail order pharmacy delivering medicine to patients hundreds of miles away.
 "There is nothing `coordinated' about the excess waste and over- utilization of medicines that characterize mail order pharmacies and needlessly drive up costs.
 "There is nothing `coordinated' about severing the face-to-face relationship of patients with the most accessible health professional in every community in this country -- the local pharmacist.
 "There is nothing 'coordinated' about assembly-line dispensing by teams of technicians who will never even see the patients they are ostensibly serving.
 "The proof, of course, is in the pudding," said West, "but we have serious reservations at this juncture that this proposed merger does anything positive with respect to the delivery of high-quality pharmacy services to the nation's consumers."
 NARD said it will provide input to both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as they proceed with their assessment of the proposed merger, including the potential anti-competitive and patient confidentiality concerns raised by the merger agreement.
 NARD serves the pharmacist owners, managers, and employees of nearly 40,000 independent pharmacies across the United States. Independent retail pharmacists -- more than 75,000 nationwide -- dispense the majority of the nation's retail prescription drugs.
 -0- 8/19/93
 /CONTACT: Todd Dankmyer of NARD, 703-683-8200/
 (MRK)


CO: NARD; Merck and Co.; Medco Containment Services ST: Virginia IN: MTC SU: TNM

DC-KD -- DC007 -- 4238 08/19/93 10:18 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 19, 1993
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