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Federal Trade Commission Votes to Release Statement Retracting Previous Advocacy on Pharmacy Benefit Managers

The Federal Trade Commission votes to issue a cautionary statement against reliance on prior advocacy statements and studies related to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) due to several compelling reasons:

  • Outdated Information: The advocacy letters and studies in question were published or issued between 2004 and 2014. With the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape and significant changes in the PBM industry since then, these materials no longer accurately represent the current market realities and practices of PBMs.
  • Evolving PBM Industry: The PBM industry has undergone substantial transformations over the years, including changes in regulations, business models, and market dynamics. The Commission recognizes that relying on outdated materials could lead to misguided decisions and policies that do not align with the current state of the industry.
  • Ongoing FTC Study: The Commission is actively engaged in an ongoing study of the PBM industry to update its understanding of the sector and its practices. This study is essential for gaining a comprehensive and up-to-date perspective on the challenges and opportunities within the industry. As such, relying on old advocacy statements and studies may hinder the progress of this critical investigation.
  • Opposition to Transparency and Disclosure Requirements: The cautionary statement highlights that PBMs have been using older FTC advocacy materials to oppose mandatory transparency and disclosure requirements. This indicates a potential bias towards preserving a lack of transparency in their operations, which could adversely impact consumers and other stakeholders.
  • Ensuring Accurate Decision-Making: The Commission’s primary role is to promote competition, protect consumers, and make informed policy decisions. By issuing this cautionary statement, the FTC aims to encourage stakeholders to base their decisions and arguments on the most current and reliable data available to ensure fair and effective regulation within the PBM industry.
  • Fairness and Consumer Protection: The cautionary statement is part of the Commission’s commitment to fair competition and consumer protection. Relying on outdated materials may result in policies that do not adequately address present challenges or adequately safeguard consumers’ interests.

By providing these reasons, the Federal Trade Commission seeks to promote a more informed and accurate discussion surrounding PBMs, ensuring that decisions are based on the latest data and understanding of the industry’s dynamics.

Tyrone Squires, MBA, CPBS

I am the proud founder and managing director of TransparentRx, a fiduciary-model PBM based in Las Vegas, Nevada. We help health plan sponsors reduce pharmacy spend, by as much as 50%, without cutting benefits or shifting costs to employees.

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