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Congressmen take aim at PBMs

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A half-dozen congressmen pointed a finger at pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) on the floor of the House of Representatives last week in an hour of comments on the high cost of prescriptions drugs, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said in its Executive Update e-newsletter.

In the session, Reps. Doug Collins (R., Ga.), Brian Babin (R., Texas), Buddy Carter (R., Ga.), John Duncan (R., Tenn.), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) and Austin Scott (R., Ga.) said practices by PBMs have contributed to rising drug prices and negatively impacted community pharmacy reimbursements and patients’ access to pharmacies of their choice.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Texas) also submitted a statement, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) tweeted her support, NCPA added.

“We’re going to go straight to really what I believe is the bigger cause of problems in our communities, and that is the pharmacy benefit managers and the ways that they’re dealing with our community pharmacists and independent pharmacists and actually cause problems in the health care,” Collins said in leading off the discussion.

Collins and Loebsack last week introduced the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (H.R. 1316), which NCPA would increase transparency in generic drug payments in taxpayer-funded federal health programs and preserve patient access to local community pharmacies. Babin, Carter, Duncan and McMorris Rodgers are among the bill’s original sponsors.

“It’s no surprise that costs are going up. No surprise at all. With the lack of transparency that’s what’s going to happen,” Carter said during the House discussion. “We’ve got to have greater transparency in the drug pricing system. Yes, that includes pharmacy. Yes, it includes the pharmaceutical manufacturer. But mostly it’s got to be with the PBM.”

On Monday, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), a PBM trade group, said H.R. 1316 would end up hiking prescription drug costs in federal health programs, including TRICARE and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.

PCMA also said the legislation would undermine the use of mail-service pharmacies for people with chronic conditions, such as hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Now is not the time for new government mandates that raise prescription drug costs and undermine competition,” PCMA president Mark Merritt said in a statement.

*Video courtesy of C-Span.


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