The National Community Pharmacists Association is hailing a move by the Federal Trade Commission to proceed with a 6(b) study of pharmacy benefit managers and anticompetitive business practices. After the commission in February split 2-2 on a proposal to launch a formal study into PBMs, FTC Chair Lina Khan pledged to call for another vote on the issue.

Today’s vote comes after Alvaro Bedoya was sworn in as commissioner in May. He joined Khan and all commissioners in voting to support the investigation. This will make the six largest PBMs (CVS Caremark; Express Scripts, Inc.; OptumRx, Inc.; Humana Inc.; Prime Therapeutics LLC; and MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.) hand over information on PBM business practices including fees and clawbacks charged to unaffiliated pharmacies, patient-steering, audits of independent pharmacies, reimbursement, and more.

NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, applauded the outcome. Hoey said:

Federal Trade Commission to proceed with a 6(b) study of pharmacy benefit managers
Doug Hoey, Pharmacist, NCPA CEO

“PBMs behave like monopolies. Their secretive, anticompetitive practices increase prescription drug prices, limit consumer choice, and stymie competition. They’ve escaped serious scrutiny for far too long, but this study will bring their dirty laundry out into the open.

“NCPA has repeatedly called on the FTC to scrutinize PBM practices and thousands of community pharmacy owners and their allies have shared with the FTC their examples of the impact health insurer-owned PBMs have on consumer costs and access to prescription drugs contributing to the FTC decision to do the 6(b) study. These examples have made a difference. We’re grateful to Chair Khan and the commissioners for considering these concerns and approving this study, which we hope will result in meaningful reforms to merger and acquisition reviews and, of course, to the insurer-PBMs themselves.”

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