FTC Votes Unanimously to Investigate PBMs Huge Win for Patients and Pharmacy
After a split vote of 2-2 in February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan pledged to call for another vote on the issue of launching a formal study into pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Yesterday, June 7, 2022, the commission voted unanimously 5-0 to proceed with an inquiry into the prescription drug middleman industry. In May, Alvaro Bedoya was sworn in as commissioner and provided the additional vote in support of the investigation.
For years, PBMs have had an undue influence on the access and affordability of medicine. Yet even as drug prices soared and patient access has become increasingly at the mercy of PBMs, how they operate has remained mostly hidden. Ultimately, with nearly zero transparency, PBMs dictate how much a patient will pay for their medication, which medication they can use, and where they can get their medication. The FTC study will require the six largest PBMs (CVS Caremark; Express Scripts, Inc.; OptumRX, Inc.; Humana Inc.; Prime Therapeutics LLC; and MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.) to provide information and records regarding their business practices.
The Kentucky Pharmacists Association (KPhA) shared our concerns with the FTC and are among more than 24,000 public comments received to date. We applaud the FTC for acting with urgency and putting patients before PBM profits.
KPhA will continue to closely monitor the actions taken by the FTC and support them as needed.