Executives from five pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the middlemen who negotiate prescription drug formularies and prices for insurers, will testify in a much-anticipated hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning.
“When pharmaceutical executives had their turn at the Senate Finance Committee in February, they characterized the PBMs as the bad guys, complaining that these third-party negotiators don’t pass drug discounts along to consumers but pocket them instead,” The Washington Post’s Paige Winfield Cunningham says in a preview.
“Expect an opposite narrative tomorrow, when executives for the country’s top three PBMs — CVS Health, UnitedHealth’s OptumRx and Cigna’s Express Scripts — will sit before the Finance Committee for its latest hearing on the high cost of prescription drugs. … They’ll undoubtedly characterize the drugmakers as the villains who push list prices ever higher, while arguing their own role is crucial for obtaining rebates and other savings that ultimately result in consumer savings.”
Winfield Cunningham notes that two-thirds of U.S. spending on pharmaceutical drugs in 2016 went to the drugmakers, compared to 4 percent that was captured by PBMs.