A federal court has given a thumbsup to a controversial Maine law requiring pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in that state to report payments from drug manufacturers seeking to gain preference for their products, and to disclose conflicts of interest in establishing formularies. The court's ruling, which held that Maine's Unfair Prescription Drug Practices Act does not infringe on federal pension law or violate the civil rights of PBMs, increases the prospects for passage of similar disclosure laws in a number of other states.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which has been advocating enactment of such PBM regulations by state legislatures, hailed the decision upholding the Maine law as a positive development for pharmacists and consumers. "For far too long, PBMs have been permitted to operate behind a veil of secrecy-without any regulation-putting patients and payers at a great disadvantage," said NCPA Executive Vice President Bruce Roberts. "We hope that Maine's law, and the ruling that upholds it, will serve as an example for the rest of the nation."
The ruling upheld by the federal judge concluded that the PBM industry introduce a "layer of fog to the market that prevents benefits managers from fully understanding how best to minimize their net prescription drug costs."
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.
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