With high prescription drug costs a pillar of the national debate on health care, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) is trying to shed some light on drug pricing.
The Washington, D.C.-based PBM trade group on Wednesday released a video titled, “What is drug price transparency?”. PCMA said the goal is to show how transparency is used in the prescription drug market for patients and employers.
Yet the association also noted that there’s a “right” and “wrong” kind of transparency that can impact competition and prescription drug pricing.
“The right kind of transparency is important for both patients and payers,” according to PCMA president and chief executive officer Mark Merritt. “But according to the Federal Trade Commission, the wrong kind of transparency would hurt consumers by giving drug companies inside information that could help them collude with their competitors and charge higher prices.”
PCMA said the video is part of its DrugBenefitSolutions.com campaign, aimed at explaining how PBMs rein in costs and how competition and PBM tools can drive savings for public and private health care programs. PBMs administer prescription drug plans for more than 266 million Americans, including those with commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, union plans, Medicare Part D plans, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), state government employee plans and managed Medicaid plans, among others.
PBMs have been one focal point of late in the national discussion about escalating prescription drug prices.
For instance, on Wednesday, the Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition, a national association for independent long-term care pharmacies, applauded Rep. Doug Collins (R., Ga.) for reintroducing and adding items to the MAC Transparency Act (H.R. 244), introduced in 2015, that SCPC said would require “greater transparency of the rebates, fees and costs” tied to PBMs.
H.R. 244, co-sponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa), would require PBMs to update their maximum allowable cost (MAC) benchmarks regularly to better reflect market costs and enable pharmacies to know how PBMs set reimbursement.
SCPC president and CEO Alan Rosenbloom contends that PBM pricing practices hamper the ability of LTC pharmacies to accurately assess reimbursement for the generic drugs they dispense under Medicare Part D. Passage of H.R. 244 “would be a strong first step towards more equitable, fair and transparent reimbursement for pharmacies dispensing generic drugs to seniors,” he stated.