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Federal Trade Commission Votes Unanimously to Study PBM Practices

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously on Tuesday to study “the impact of vertically integrated pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) on the access and affordability of prescription drugs.” ASHP anticipates that this review of PBM practices will include scrutiny of abusive tactics, including the lack of transparency around direct and indirect remuneration (DIR), payer-mandated white-bagging, unnecessary network restrictions, and problematic audits.

FTC’s decision to undertake this study followed a concerted campaign from ASHP, its members, and other stakeholders, including testimony before the FTC, and statements to Congress. The FTC received more than 24,000 comments on this issue, which it cited as a major influence on its decision to proceed with the study.

“We applaud FTC’s decisive vote, which will bring much-needed scrutiny to PBM practices,” said Tom Kraus, ASHP vice president of government relations. “It’s past time for the federal government to take action to rein in PBM activity that harms patients and providers. We’re optimistic that the report will open the door to meaningful reform, including workable enforcement mechanisms.”

FTC will develop its report on PBM practices over the coming months. As an initial step, the agency will send compulsory orders seeking information to major PBMs. Each company will then have 45 days to respond.

ASHP will continue to monitor the report process and update members as new information becomes available. In the interim, we encourage members to continue to send ASHP’s government relations team any new information about problematic PBM practices.

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