Despite a disappointing vote yesterday by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to reject a study into the practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., vowed to continue to fight for transparency in prescription drug pricing for all Americans.
APCI joined an all-star lineup of pharmacy and patient advocates during an FTC Open Commission Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 17, to urge the FTC to action on anti-competitive PBM practices that harm patients, providers, taxpayers, and competition itself.
In public comments, APCI Director of Healthcare Policy and General Counsel Greg Reybold told commissioners, “In light of the FTC’s twin mission of protecting consumers and protecting competition, there simply could not be a more important use of the Agency’s time, resources, and expertise than investigating the practices of PBMs and their affiliate insurers, and pharmacies.” He added that, at their worst, “PBMs take a sledgehammer to patients, patient care, and competition.”
Despite unanimous stakeholder comments in support of FTC action, the Commission deadlocked along party lines with Commissioner and Chair Lina Khan and fellow Democrat Rebecca Slaughter voting in favor of probing PBMs while the two Republican commissioners voted against it.
APCI CEO Tim Hamrick stated that the organization will continue the fight for fairness in prescription drug pricing for patients, pharmacies, and taxpayers.
“APCI was proud to join fellow advocates in urging action by the FTC,” Hamrick said. “While the 2-2 deadlock was not the outcome we sought or anticipated, we remain undeterred. We are proceeding with meetings in Washington to highlight anticompetitive practices by PBMs; however, that is but a part of the work APCI is doing on behalf of pharmacists and their patients. Just this week APCI helped spearhead a high-level meeting with CMS on DIR fees, engaged with U.S. congressmen, and continued to work in several states on legislation and enforcement.”
Despite the disappointing outcome of yesterday’s meeting, APCI believes future federal investigation into PBM practices is almost inevitable, and the co-op looks forward to continuing to work with independent pharmacy’s allies in Washington to hammer away at the anti-competitive and harmful practices of PBMs.
In oral remarks prior to her “no” vote on the study, Commissioner Christine S. Wilson said, “it will be useful to reflect on the input we received today from stakeholders to ensure we are addressing the most pertinent concerns. As I noted, commenters highlighted important issues today that are not covered by the study as currently drafted. I look forward to discussing the study with our staff and working with my colleagues to get the study across the finish line.” APCI will work to address the commissioner’s concerns and offer the co-op’s expertise to the FTC as it drafts a more comprehensive study into PBMs.
“We hope the commissioners will realize that these unfair and anticompetitive PBM behaviors are not only an issue for independent pharmacy,” Hamrick continued. “As yesterday’s public comments showed, these practices are affecting every American, and we were encouraged to see groups from oncologists to consumer organizations joining us in this effort. There is no finish line to this fight, and APCI will continue its efforts, resolute on behalf of not only our members, but for all of community pharmacy across the country and the patients they serve.”