6(b) Study of Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Anticompetitive Business Practices Approved

According to a recent article, a 6(b) study of pharmacy benefit managers and anticompetitive business practices was approved by the Federal Trade Commission following pressure from the NCPA.

The Study

The 6(b) study will investigate the six largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), looking at their fees and clawbacks charged to unaffiliated pharmacies, patient-steering, audits of independent pharmacies, reimbursement, and so on. The PBMs the study specifically will be looking at are CVS Caremark, Express Scripts Inc., OptumRX, Inc., Humana Inc., Prime Therapeutics LLC, and MedImpact Healthcare Systems.

The Approval

Back in February, the commission was unable to agree on whether to launch and investigation into PBMs, resulting in a 2-2 split vote. The chair of the FTC, Lina Khan, decided to hold another poll regarding the investigation. Alvaro Bedoya recently became a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission back in May, and he along with the other commissioners, voted in support of the study.


The National Community Pharmacists Association has been vocal about their excitement over the study’s approval. The CEO of NCPA and pharmacist, B. Douglas Hoey, shared a statement expressing his approval of the outcome. In a statement, he said that PBMs act like monopolies, and they have gone by without scrutiny for much too long. He called out the fact that PBMs increase the prices of prescription drugs, limit the choices for the consumer, and interfere with the competition. He stated that he was grateful to those who called for the study and,

“considering these concerns and approving this study, which we hope will result in meaningful reforms to merger and acquisition reviews and, of course, to the insurer-PBMs themselves.” 

The National Community Pharmacists Association

The NCPA was founded in 1898, and they act as a voice for the community pharmacist. They represent, defend, and promote the interests of independent community pharmacists. Today they represent 19,400 pharmacists.

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