Center for Political Awareness

Pharma’s Secret Middlemen are Poisoning Health Care

Following a lobbying blitz, Congress might punt all efforts to stop shadowy pharmacy benefit managers from inflating drug prices and killing small pharmacies. (Click image for article.)

Image: (AP Photo/J. Walter Green)

 

Lawmakers from both parties and 39 state attorneys general joined forces to stop the shadowy corporate middlemen behind rising drug prices and the death of independent pharmacies. Now these reform efforts are in peril, following nearly $50 million in industry lobbying — including tens of thousands to Congress members who sponsored reform legislation.

These largely unregulated middlemen, called pharmacy benefit managers, serve as intermediaries between insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, determining which drugs insurers will cover and how much they cost. But they are incentivized to opt for the most expensive medicines and slash drug reimbursement rates to maximize profit, hurting both patients and small pharmacies.  

As Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan just declared at a White House roundtable on the matter, these “dominant gatekeepers” have “outsized power to decide how people do or don’t receive the life-saving prescription drugs they depend on.” 

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