Over the past several weeks, a public feud has been playing out in drug-policy-wonk-world. It's over whether Pharmacy Benefit Managers, middlemen in the drug supply channel, help or hurt drug prices in general. We have written extensively on this subject and believe PBMs are a major contributor to high drug prices. And in the past couple months, most major publications have written articles in agreement. This week, Forbes ran an article titled "Reform Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) To Improve Pharmaceutical Affordability." Bloomberg ran a similar piece last week, with the headline, "Drug Costs Too High? Fire the Middleman."
Critics are armed with new information on PBMs, partially due to a CMS report on clawbacks, which showed that PBMs drive up the cost of drugs by underpaying pharmacies, overcharging co-pays, and pocketing the difference. Major news outlets have fueled this fire and now the simmering conflict over the role of middlemen has been jacked up to a rolling boil.
Our newsroom at The CPPC reads like gossip (fine, as close as policy will get to gossip) right now, with PBMs firing back at criticism with vague statements about savings and consumer choice. But with all eyes on healthcare costs right now, it seems like the time is right for PBMs to finally get the scrutiny that's been coming for them for a while.