NEW YORK — Hundreds of pharmacists dressed in white lab coats, together with patients and elected officials rallied at the State Capitol in Albany to support new proposed regulations on prescription drug middlemen known as PBMs. The legislation (A9902/ S7828), if enacted in the upcoming New York State Budget, will ensure critical protections for patients, taxpayers and community pharmacies.
The calls to regulate prescription drug middlemen persist as PBMs continue to draw scrutiny for rigging drug prices, eliminating patient choice, ripping off taxpayers and destroying community pharmacies.
“New Yorkers can’t wait,” said Steve Moore, president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY). “Enacting the proposed legislation (A9902/ S7828) as part of the New York State Budget is the most expeditious way to ensure critical protections for patients, taxpayers and pharmacies, and to end the indefensible abuse by prescription drug middlemen.”
A ground shattering report in January showed PBMs are responsible for the chaos at chain pharmacies that is forcing pharmacists to fill hundreds of prescriptions per shift, leading to lapses and mistakes that have potentially fatal consequences for patients.
PBMs have come under intense criticism by independent pharmacy owners for reducing the amounts pharmacies are reimbursed for dispensing prescription drugs to extremely low levels, forcing more community pharmacies to lay off staff, reduce hours or close all together. More than 2,000 pharmacies closed nationwide from 2018-2019 due to PBM abuse.
New York nearly implemented the “toughest crackdowns on PBMs in the nation” in 2019, but the legislation was ultimately vetoed by Governor Cuomo in the final days of December 2019. The legislation was supported by doctors, pharmacists, patient advocates, labor unions and lawmakers in both parties. It was opposed by three Fortune 25 companies (CVS Caremark, Optum Rx and Express Scripts) and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), a special interest group based in Washington, D.C. that represents PBMs.
In response to outcries from advocates led by FixRx, the Governor included PBM reform in his executive budget.
The rally was organized by FixRx and the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY) as part of their ongoing campaign to fix New York’s broken prescription drug distribution system by reining in pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). As part of the budget enacted in 2019, FixRx and PSSNY won a ban on spread pricing in Medicaid managed care, a notorious tool that PBMs used to steal $300 million from New Yorkers in 2018-2019.