FTC takes aim at PBM business practices in new inquiry

The Federal Trade Commission will intensify its scrutiny of pharmacy benefit manager business practices, the agency announced Tuesday.

The probe, which the commission unanimously approved, will focus on how vertical integration in the PBM sector affects access and pricing in the prescription drug market, according to a news release.

The FTC will require the six largest PBMs to provide information about their activities. The regulator plans to send compulsory orders to CVS Health’s CVS Caremark, Cigna’s Express Scripts, UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx, Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated Prime Therapeutics, and MedImpact Healthcare Systems.

The FTC issued a public request for information about how PBMs affect the healthcare system in February, following a failed vote to initiate a review of the industry. In response, provider groups urged the regulator to investigate the companies, alleging their practices harm quality and threaten providers’ finances.

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