FTC Seeking Public Comment on Pharmacy Benefit Managers Through April 25


The Federal Trade Commission has opened the public comment period through April 25 on “the ways that practices by large, vertically integrated Pharmacy Benefit Managers’ (PBMs) are affecting drug affordability and access,” according to a Thursday (Feb. 24) press release.

The FTC’s public comment period looks at contract terms, rebates, fees, pricing policies, steering methods, conflicts of interest and consolidation across the PBM industry. The agency wants information on these practices and their impact on patients, physicians, employers, independent and chain pharmacies and other businesses, it said in the announcement.

PBMs manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of private health insurers, Medicare Part D drug plans, large employers and other payers and the biggest PBMs are integrated with health insurance companies and specialty pharmacies. That approach gives them “financial incentives to steer patients to use their affiliated services,” according to the commission announcement.

“In response to the Commission’s request for public input on contracts terms that may harm fair competition, many independent pharmacies commented that PBM contractual terms are confusing, unfair, opaque, and arbitrary,” the announcement says.

The public comment period “will enable agency staff to study a wide array of PBM business practices and issues and will help inform the agency’s policy and enforcement work,” according to the commission announcement.

Members of the public “can comment on any issues or concerns they believe are relevant or appropriate for the agency’s consideration by submitting written data, views, facts, and opinions addressing this subject,” the announcement says.

Related: FTC: Consumer Fraud Jumped 70% in 2021

The FTC reported earlier this week that consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, up 70% from the 2020 total. The FTC said it received reports from more than 2.8 million consumers in 2021, and most were victims of imposter scams. Those scams accounted for more nearly half of all the losses: $2.3 billion, compared to $1.2 billion in 2020, with online shopping scams the second-biggest loss category at $392 million, compared to $246 million in the previous year.

Scams involving prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries; internet services; and business and job opportunities rounded out the top five.