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Pharmacy Middlemen Secrets Sought to Gauge Antitrust Woes

May 10, 2019, 9:14 AM

Lawmakers are weighing the unusual step of ordering a federal agency to look at the competitiveness of the pharmacy liaison industry.

The House and Senate are considering a bill (H.R. 2376) that would require the Federal Trade Commission to study pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), including whether their practices in negotiating drug prices with pharma companies are anticompetitive.

Pharmacy benefit managers are middlemen who negotiate drug discounts with pharmaceutical companies and decide which drugs get preferred coverage in health insurance plans. The nation’s three largest PBMs—CVS Health Corp., Express Scripts Inc., and OptumRx—control 85 percent of the market.

The...

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