PBM Leaders Fight Back: Say They’re Not To Blame for High Drug Prices

Pharmacy benefits managers are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore. Larry Merlo, the chief executive at CVS Health, told analysts on a conference call yesterday that, “Any suggestion that PBMs are causing drug prices to rise is simply erroneous. We are the solution and not the problem.”

That’s news to many who’ve pointed the finger at PBMs, accusing them of being the stealth cause in the steep rise in drug costs. Merlo comments came several days after the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) issued a memo to members that contains a six-point plan to push back against the bad publicity PBMs have been getting.

The memo is from Mark Merritt, PCMA’s president, and he makes it clear that some of President Trump’s remarks about pharmacy prices have unnerved the industry. Merritt writes: “If this were a conventional presidency, we’d wait to present a strategic update once key health officials were in place and new policy imperatives more clearly defined. We wanted to accelerate this review given the political uncertainty, headline risk, and other unique challenges that come with a president more inclined toward quick, instinctive action than the traditional, deliberative decision-making process.”

The six-point PCMA plan is:

  • Engaging key administration officials on the PBM value proposition.
  • PCMA’s ongoing digital advertising campaign targeting policymakers.
  • Building a political firewall on Capitol Hill.
  • Exploring ways to leverage the 73,000 grassroots allies PCMA’s recruited in key districts.
  • Shaping the PBM regulatory environment.
  • Mobilizing pro-payer allies and policy solutions.

Source: Memo from Mark Merritt to members of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association