Arkansas May Require Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licenses

PBMs currently operate in Arkansas with no government oversight

Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) would be required to obtain a license from the state to do business in Arkansas, under proposed legislation announced Wednesday. The potential mandate is part of a law-making effort to provide oversight to prescription reimbursement practices that some pharmacists have said are threatening their businesses and the ability of patients to access needed care.

Related Coverage: Arkansas Pharmacists Say PBM Reimbursement Continues to Plummet in 2018

Hired by insurers, including health plans and employers, PBMs serve as fiscal intermediaries between their clients and pharmacies to manage prescription drug programs.1 PBMs require pharmacy owners to sign a nonnegotiable contract to receive reimbursements for prescriptions, and over time, payments to pharmacies often drop.2

During a press conference on the matter Wednesday, Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA) CEO Scott Pace explained that PBMs sometimes reduce reimbursements to small pharmacies to the point where they are taking monetary losses on some medications. He said that unlike larger pharmacies that can benefit from PBMs, community pharmacists are being faced with an unenviable challenge: accept a reimbursement that is less than what was paid to stock the drugs or turn away patients in need of unprofitable medications.

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