Regulatory and Legal Reform

Policy and Legal

Reform PBMs, NAM Tells Congress

Pharmacy benefit managers—companies that were first established to manage the cost of prescription drugs—are now driving up pharmaceutical prices for employers and patients, the NAM told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce this week.

What’s going on: While manufacturers remain committed to providing health benefits to their workers, PBMs are “[c]ontributing to the increasing costs of health care,” said NAM Vice President of Policy Chris Netram on Monday, ahead of the committee’s markup of 44 pieces of legislation.

  • These measures included the Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act and the Medicare PBM Accountability Act.

Why it’s important: PBMs operate with a virtual monopoly, as just a few of them now control up to 89% of the prescription drug market, Netram continued.

  • PBMs operate with limited federal oversight and frequently steer business toward pharmacy networks owned by their parent firms.

What should be done: Congress should pass legislation aimed at changing the PBM model.

  • “The complex formulas and opaque business practices of PBMs must come to an end,” the NAM wrote in a social post Tuesday. “Congress must address PBM reform to increase transparency, ensure pharmaceutical savings are passed to the plan sponsor and patients and delink PBM compensation from the list price of drugs.”

In related news: CVS Health “will move away from the complex formulas used to set the prices of the prescription drugs it sells, shifting to a simpler model that could upend how American pharmacies are paid,” The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

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