WASHINGTON — The much-maligned pharmacy middlemen escaped largely unscathed during a high-profile congressional hearing Tuesday — but the powerful bipartisan duo behind the hearing now appears intent on legislating, and it looks like increasing transparency will be their primary goal.

Executives for the country’s five largest pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen that negotiate with drug makers over the price of their drugs, were expected to face hard questions about their role in the ever rising price of prescription drugs from members of the Senate Finance Committee. But the PBM executives largely parried the senators’ questions, none of which shone too harsh a spotlight on the industry’s practices.

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  • These hearings were quite disappointing. True, elimination of D.I.R fees were were not discussed . Many subjects were not discussed. You would think this congressional committee would have grilled these guys on the secrecy of the PBM’s pricing tactics . How about the intentional underpayments to independent pharmacies. Why weren’t they asked , Who keeps these D.I.R fees that are clawed back from independent pharmacies? (Duhh ! what do you think ?). Why weren’t they asked if they would be willing to “Level the playing field”. Agree to the “Any Willing Pharmacy” proposal where a consumer has the right to have their prescription filled by any willing pharmacy that will fill the prescription. Consumers should not be mandated to have their Rx’s filled by a PBM owned mail order house.
    Why didn’t this committee ask to see how much CVS pharmacy was reimbursed for the top 100 most popular drugs for the last year.In addition, how much each one of the PBM’s mail order pharmacies were reimbursed, and then how much independent pharmacies were reimbursed. I guarantee you not one of those PBM’s would have agreed to this request.
    Are the PBM’s retail pharmacy operations, weather it be CVS pharmacies , or any of the PBM’s mail order houses CHARGED ANY D.I.R FEES????? (Anyone out there want to bet me ??).
    What was missing from yesterday’s hearings was someone from NCPA or someone from any of the dozen or so states (to date),that were fleeced for billions of dollars (in total) independent pharmacy organizations to ask some questions .
    Until PBM’s are forced to open their books for everyone to see , The Mafia bullying of the PBM’s will continue. And as the world turns every day, We’ll all wake up tomorrow, the sun will rise, we’ll all go to work, and there will be independent mom & pop pharmacies closing every day. All because of the greed of the PBM’s and the inability of our government to change it . How sad is that ……..

  • The key now is to watch who the PBM’s lobbiests talk to. Bet some promises for future campaign contributions get made in the next week.