New Think Tank Issue Brief, Growing Bipartisan Focus on Drug Pricing Exposes Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to Warranted Scrutiny
Washington, DC — The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) today welcomed this week’s announcement by Senate Health, Education, Pension and Labor (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that the Committee will soon hold a hearing on a range of issues surrounding drug pricing. The hearing announcement coincides with a new issue brief from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) finding PBMs trigger higher patient co-pays, among other negative cost and access variables.
“We applaud Senator Alexander for his desire and intent to place the increasingly contentious drug pricing issue in the public domain for examination and discussion,” stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President and CEO of the SCPC, which advocates specifically for the interests of long term care (LTC) pharmacies and the elderly patients under their care in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities (SNFs/ALFs) nationwide.
“It was noteworthy earlier this year when Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office (R-IA) said PBMs should be added to the list of those being scrutinized for their role in driving higher pharmaceutical prices, and it is similarly significant that Senator Alexander plans a broader-based hearing on a range of issues,” Rosenbloom observed.
“2017 has seen a significant spike in bipartisan interest surrounding the causal factors driving higher drug prices, and we encourage Senator Alexander to ensure PBMs are called to answer for their strident defense of opaque pricing practices that keep consumers in the dark,” he continued.
Rosenbloom said SCPC’s mission of educating lawmakers about opaque PBM pricing practices — and their deleterious impact on seniors and LTC pharmacies’ ongoing ability to provide key clinical benefits and medication management services — has been helped by the avalanche of negative publicity regarding PBMs’ role in driving higher drug prices.
Among the key findings of the new issue brief (The Economic Costs of Pharmacy Benefit Managers: A Review of the Literature) from Dr. Wayne Winegarden, PRI’s Senior Fellow in Business and Economics:
- PBMs have an undue influence over the medicines that patients can access;
- PBMs provide incentives for higher list prices for medications that come with large rebates and discounts; and
- PBMs trigger higher patient co-pays than necessary given the large discrepancy between list prices and the prices people pay at the counter.
“The big winner from the increased level of bipartisan congressional discussion surrounding PBM pricing abuses is the public-at-large,” the SCPC leader concluded. “We hope the net result of this added focus will be more accountability in the drug pricing chain, and broad-based reform of the status quo PBM pricing practices that ultimately hurt seniors and undermine taxpayers.”
The SCPC is the national association for independent LTC pharmacies. Our member pharmacies provide care and services to patients in LTC facilities in across the country occupying approximately 675,000 beds across the country. Visit us at www.seniorcarepharmacies.org to learn more.