As scrutiny over what Americans pay for prescription drugs continues, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is joining the action. In early June, the agency voted unanimously to launch an investigation of the business practices of the six largest PBMs. Then a little over a week later, it issued a statement on its enforcement policy on certain rebates and fees that manufacturers give PBMs that result in the exclusion of lower-cost drugs on their formularies. Industry experts say that PBMs should heed this “aggressive approach,” which appears to be challenging them to show that these rebates are justifiable and being passed on to patients and payers.
The focus comes after President Biden’s July 9, 2021, Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy in which he called for “a fair, open, and competitive marketplace” across numerous industries. “Americans are paying too much for prescription drugs and healthcare services — far more than the prices paid in other countries. Hospital consolidation has left many areas, particularly rural communities, with inadequate or more expensive healthcare options. And too often, patent and other laws have been misused to inhibit or delay — for years and even decades — competition from generic drugs and biosimilars, denying Americans access to lower-cost drugs.”