Home Committee Chairman Launches Investigation into PBMs, Rising Drug Prices

Pharmacy profit managers (PBMs) are being focused but once more by the federal government. James Comer (R-Ky), Home Committee on Oversight and Accountability chairman, launched an investigation Wednesday into PBMs and their “techniques which might be harming affected person care and growing prices for shoppers.”

Comer despatched letters to the Workplace of Personnel Administration, Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers and the Protection Well being Company asking for paperwork that present how PBMs’ practices are affecting federal authorities healthcare applications. As well as, he despatched letters to CVS Caremark, Categorical Scripts and OptumRx —  which management 80% of the PBM market — asking them to offer “paperwork, communications and knowledge” on their techniques. This contains rebates or charges paid to them and incentives encouraging sufferers to make use of pharmacies owned by them.

“Pharmacy Profit Managers’ anticompetitive techniques are driving up well being care prices for People and harming affected person care,” Comer stated in a information launch. “Federal companies administering well being care applications for seniors, active-duty navy, and federal workers depend on PBMs as middlemen to set drug costs, which opens the door to authorities waste on the expense of American taxpayers.”

The letters declare that PBMs use “self-benefiting practices,” together with “fail first” insurance policies that require sufferers to first fail on the PBM’s drug earlier than they begin utilizing the drug first prescribed to them. One other observe the letters name out is prior authorization, which delays affected person care, Comer stated. As well as, he calls out unfold pricing, a tactic through which PBMs cost payers extra for a drug than what they paid the pharmacy after which preserve the distinction.

“The main focus of the pharmaceutical market needs to be on the affected person. Larger transparency is required to find out the impression PBM techniques are having on sufferers and the pharmaceutical market,” the letters state.

Comer added that motion is required to guard sufferers and make prescribed drugs more cost effective.

“Larger transparency within the PBM business is important to find out the impression that their techniques are having on sufferers, the pharmaceutical market, and well being care applications administered by the federal authorities,” he stated in an announcement. “The Home Oversight and Accountability Committee is shining a light-weight on this situation within the healthcare system and can proceed to look at options to make prescribed drugs extra reasonably priced for all People.

The information follows a Senate Commerce Committee listening to held in February that mentioned how the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act would impression drug costs. The invoice, launched by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would ban PBMs from clawing again reimbursement funds and collaborating in unfold pricing.

In June, the Federal Commerce Fee additionally launched an investigation into six PBMs: Categorical Scripts, CVS Caremark, OptumRx, Humana, Prime Therapeutics and MedImpact Healthcare Programs.

Picture: bong hyunjung, Getty Photos