Coalition to Take Action Against PBMs

OCTOBER 01, 2005

Fed up with rising drug prices, a coalition that represents 52 association member companies is taking a stand against pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The group, organized by the HR Policy Association, aims to reveal the true cost of prescription drugs and to change the way PBMs administer employee drug prices. The HR Policy Association's Pharmaceutical Purchasing Coalition has developed the Transparency in Pharmaceutical Solutions platform.

The new purchasing model would require PBMs to disclose and pass on to their clients their acquisition costs for retail and mail-order prescriptions. Furthermore, the group wants PBMs to pass along the rebates that they get from drug manufacturers. The group has been successful in getting 3 smaller PBMs—Aetna Pharmacy Management, MedImpact Healthcare Systems Inc, and Walgreens Health Initiatives—to meet the standards proposed by the coalition. The biggest challenge will be getting the nation's 3 biggest PBMs—Medco Health Solutions Inc, Caremark Rx Inc, and Express Scripts Inc—to embrace the new model.

"There is going to be a lot of pressure on even the big 3 to come around to this business model," said Jeffrey McGuiness, president of the HR Policy Association. "In the end, it's going to be hard for anyone to say ‘Total transparency? No, we're not going to give you that.'"