Arlington, VA - Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association welcomed the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee’s approval of the bipartisan Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act (S. 127), led by Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which would increase drug pricing transparency and help prevent several anticompetitive practices used by some pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that harm supermarket pharmacies, communities and customers.
The PBM Transparency Act would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to stop unfair and deceptive PBM business practices, prohibit certain anticompetitive pricing schemes, and incentivize transparent PBM practices. Today’s markup follows the FTC launching a formal inquiry last year into the PBM industry and ramping up enforcement against those PBMs participating in rebate schemes that block access to cheaper drugs.
FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher stated, “The largest, vertically integrated PBMs create endless schemes to reduce reimbursement to the country’s most accessible and trusted health care professionals – pharmacists and their pharmacies – effectively forcing them to provide drugs below cost. Although supermarket pharmacies are critically important and convenient access points for consumers across the country – particularly in underserved, low-income, rural, and urban communities – the unfair and manipulative tactics of these PBMs are driving food retailers out of the pharmacy business, limiting consumer access and choice. The combination of increased fees, lowered reimbursement rates and reduced access for patients due to PBM patient steering is unsustainable for supermarket pharmacies – particularly for an industry that operates on profit margins of just 1-2%.”
Hatcher concluded, “The PBM Transparency Act offers Congress a meaningful opportunity to bring greater transparency and accountability to PBMs. FMI thanks the Senate Commerce Committee for approving this legislation today in bipartisan fashion. We look forward to working with the bill sponsors and leadership to ensure this important legislation gets across the finish line.”