House committee hears from FTC commissioners on PBM report

NCPA July 11, 2024

On Tuesday—the same day the agency released its interim report on PBMs—the five FTC commissioners testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on their FY25 budget request. Numerous committee members wanted to hear from the commissioners about the new report, however.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) highlighted the year-over-year increase in PBM control over prescriptions nationwide, speaking with Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya about the risks of vertical integration and consolidation in the health care industry, as well as PBM noncompliance with the FTC’s information requests in compiling the report. Bedoya in particular pointed to the harms caused by PBMs steering patients towards preferred pharmacies.

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) spoke extensively about the challenges pharmacists face as a result of PBMs, noting the loss rate of one pharmacy closure per day. Carter also sought reassurance from Commissioner Melissa Holyoak that her dissent in releasing the interim report was only due to her desire to see a more comprehensive report from the FTC, rather than any support for PBM practices. Holyoak pointed to her work as Utah Solicitor General in holding PBMs accountable.

Other members who used their time to speak to the PBM problem included Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) who noted serious concerns about PBMs’ new group purchasing organization (GPO) arrangements, and Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.) who asked FTC Chair Lina Khan about the issue of pharmacy deserts, especially in rural and underserved areas. In her conversation with Bedoya, he specifically highlighted the portion of the report detailing the faxed, opt-out-only nature of PBM contracts and the frequent changes PBMs make to them. NCPA looks forward to the FTC’s continued investigation into this issue, and to finding ways to hold PBMs accountable.