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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.

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