March 23, 2011
(Washington, DC) — In a letter to Mississippi State Representative Mark Formby this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that a bill shifting regulatory authority over pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner to the Board of Pharmacy “may increase pharmaceutical prices and reduce competition.” The FTC also states that the Mississippi legislature should “seriously consider whether there are benefits to consumers from the additional, more restrictive regulations in the bill that would outweigh the competitive harm and consumer costs.”
SB 2445 would create a conflict of interest since Board members are pharmacists, a group which contracts with PBMs and could financially benefit from the policies they set. The FTC states that this provision could make “collusion easier and increase prescription drug prices if the Pharmacy Board obtains and discloses PBMs’ competitively sensitive information to pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacists, and pharmacies.”
“The Federal Trade Commission’s comments on SB 2445 make it clear that it is anticompetitive and will increase prescription drug costs,” said Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO Mark Merritt. “SB 2445 would hurt consumers and should be rejected by the Mississippi legislature.”
PCMA represents the nation’s PBMs, which improve affordability and quality of care through the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), generic alternatives, mail-service pharmacies, and other innovative tools for 210-plus million Americans. They also play a major role in administering the Medicare Part D drug benefit – a rare public program that routinely comes in under budget and is highly popular with seniors. PBMs typically reduce drug costs by about 25 percent.