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Investigate PBM Tactics Driving Up The Price Of Drugs

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An investigation into PBMs was initiated in 2021, and stopped by two FTC commissioners. Tell them to allow this investigation!


Prescription drug middlemen have been consolidating the sources and increasing the prices of your drugs over the years, forcing some Americans to choose between quality-of-life or good health.

77% of all prescriptions filled nationwide are controlled by three Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)1, the pharmaceutical industry's giant corporate middlemen that result in higher prices across the country, all owned by the largest health insurers: Caremark (owned by CVS), OptumRx (owned by United Health), and Express Scripts (owned by Cigna)2.

Defenders of Big Pharma would tell you Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) aim to lower drug costs and help patients efficiently access medications. In reality, PBMs work to jack up the price of life-saving drugs like insulin, steal from community pharmacies until they go bankrupt, and overcomplicate rural pharmacy care to the point of uselessness3.

PBMs decide what pharmacies you can use, which of your medications are covered by insurance, and how much you, the pharmacy, and your insurance company must pay, giving them immense control over drug prices in the United States4.

When FTC Chair Lina Khan first pushed to investigate PBMs' role in rising drug prices and illegal monopolistic practices5, Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson blocked the investigation6.

Commissioners Phillips and Wilson voted against confirming the investigation because they claimed it was too broad in scope and lacked focus. With the knowledge that millions of Americans rely on the pharmacy system to survive, further supported by signatures from our readers, they may stand down the next time a vote is called.

Sign the petition and help us ask FTC Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson to stop blocking efforts to open an investigation into PBMs.

More on this issue:

  1. Adam J. Fein, Drug Channels (6 April 2021), "The Top Pharmacy Benefit Managers of 2020: Vertical Integration Drives Consolidation."
  2. Alia Paavola, Becker's Hospital Review (10 April 2019), "The top insurers all have PBMs: Here's who they are."
  3. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times (9 June 2017), "Column: How 'price-cutting' middlemen are making crucial drugs vastly more expensive."
  4. The Commonwealth Fund (22 April 2019), "Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Their Role in Drug Spending."
  5. National Community Pharmacy Association, (28 June 2021), "Community Pharmacists Welcome New FTC Chair, Applaud Skeptical View of Vertical Mergers."
  6. Darrel Rowland, The Columbus Dispatch (17 February 2022), "Federal Trade Commission rejects pharmacy benefit managers probe pushed by Biden appointee."
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The Petition:

Dear FTC Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson,

In 2021 you blocked an investigation into Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBR), claiming that said investigation was too broad in scope and lacked focus.

It is clear to me what this investigation should focus on, and I would like to share those concerns with you.

Prescription drug middlemen have been consolidating the sources and increasing the prices of your drugs over the years, forcing some Americans to choose between quality-of-life or good health. It is not right that necessary medications should cost hardworking Americans their life savings.

People shouldn't have to choose between medication and food. They shouldn't have to choose between quality-of-life or good health.

Furthermore, our government medical programs and insurance companies shouldn't have to spend so much on the drugs Americans need.

I implore you, for the sake of all Americans, please use your role as FTC commissioners to help those in need and allow an investigation into the role of PBMs in the pharmacy system that millions rely on to survive.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: