Arlington, VA – Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association applauded the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for holding a hearing titled, “Pharmacy Benefit Managers and the Prescription Drug Supply Chain: Impact on Patients and Taxpayers,” examining the opaque business practices pharmaceutical middlemen known as pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) undertake that harm patients, pharmacies and employers alike. PBM reform is one of our industry’s top five policy priorities for the 118th Congress. FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher offered the following statement regarding today’s hearing.
“A few PBMs wield nearly limitless power and influence over the prescription drug market for 260+ million Americans. Yet, these middlemen comprise one of the least regulated sectors of the health care system, which allows them to create endless schemes to stifle competition among the country’s most accessible and trusted health care professionals – pharmacists and their pharmacies. Additionally, as employers that provide health care coverage, our members have little visibility into how PBMs select the drugs that a plan will cover, making it impossible to understand whether their contracted PBMs are choosing drugs to reduce plan costs or to increase the PBMs’ own profits. It’s clear, however, that the current system incentivizes PBMs to give higher–priced drugs more favorable health-plan coverage, thus directing patients toward more expensive drugs.
“FMI greatly appreciates the Senate Finance Committee for holding this hearing today, which offered yet another opportunity to shine a light on the opaque and harmful practices that some of the largest PBMs use to secure greater profits at the expense of patients, pharmacies and employers. Due to anticompetitive practices like clawback fees known as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR), spread pricing, and patient steering, many supermarket pharmacies struggle to remain in business – particularly in underserved, low- income, rural and urban neighborhoods. The Committee’s actions today demonstrate its commitment to taking these issues seriously and holding the largest, vertically integrated PBMs accountable.
“Increased PBM oversight and transparency are critical to ensure lower costs for consumers and preserve their access to the pharmacy of their choice for prescription medicines and other clinical services, which is often their supermarket pharmacy. FMI thanks Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) for their leadership in calling this hearing today, and we also commend members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee for focusing so much attention on the need for PBM reform during Tuesday’s hearing to examine transparency and competition in health care. We call on both chambers of Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to pass PBM reform legislation this year to provide relief and save access to supermarket pharmacies for millions of Americans.”