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In a closely watched meeting, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission voted against proceeding with a study to examine pharmacy benefit managers and how their controversial practices affect independent and specialty pharmacy operations.

The decision came after impassioned testimony from numerous pharmacy owners who complained about problems with reimbursement, contract transparency, and assorted fees, among other issues. But the four commissioners deadlocked in a 2-to-2 tie over a last-minute effort to broaden the study to look at rebates collected by pharmacy benefit managers for negotiating coverage of prescription medicines.


“I am confident the FTC can create a study that employs a data-driven approach that drives empirical and objective examination of important questions about competition in the PBM industry,” said FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, one of two Republican members who voted against the study. “I have observed previously that stakeholders frequently attempt to co-opt the government in their battle against rivals. I am wary of having the FTC used as a pawn to boost the profitability of certain sectors or insulate them from competition.”

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