Reform PBMs to lower prescription drug costs, say Tillis, Senate colleagues

U.S. Senate leadership must enact pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reforms to reduce Americans’ prescription drug costs and protect patient access to pharmacies across the nation, say U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan contingent of his colleagues.

“We have heard directly from our constituents that harmful and aggressive tactics of some PBMs continue to worsen year over year, and that action is needed now to protect pharmacies or potential closure is imminent,” the senators wrote in a March 15 letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Sen. Tillis and his Senate colleagues pointed out that during the 118th Congress, bipartisan legislation has advanced through several committees that addresses specific PBM practices threatening patient access to low-cost drugs and pharmacies serving communities nationwide. 

“Many of our constituents report that some PBMs are reimbursing pharmacies even further below the pharmacies’ cost for the prescriptions that they fill — especially in Medicare,” the senators wrote. “Congress must act to ensure proper oversight and transparency.”

Among the 20 lawmakers who joined Sen. Tillis in signing the letter are U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

They called for immediate action to address “harmful” PBM practices, and to work as early as this month to enact specific PBM reforms that address concerns and capitalize on the bipartisan effort and momentum in both houses of Congress.

“Americans deserve and expect protection from inflated prescription drug costs, forced pharmacy closures, formulary manipulation, and barriers to their pharmacy of choice that result from harmful PBM tactics,” they wrote. “We cannot sit idly by while patients suffer.”

The letter is supported by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Food Industry Association, the National Grocers Association, and the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy.