The Federal Trade Commission recently requested public comments on the effect of drug-industry middlemen on drug affordability and access. Unfortunately, commissioners missed an opportunity to rein in these bad actors, even though they’re denying access to vital treatments and inflating the cost of drugs.
Better known as pharmacy benefit manners, or PBMs, these are the unknown middlemen that manage prescription drug benefits for insurers and large employers. As part of their role, PBMs negotiate for discounts with drugmakers and decide what medicines insurance companies will make available. They also reimburse pharmacies for dispensing drugs to patients. Some PBMs even own insurance companies or pharmacy chains themselves.