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Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Pushing for Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reforms

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein led a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general calling on Congress to help lower drug costs for Americans by reforming how pharmacy benefit managers operate.

“These third-party companies are putting profits over patients,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That’s unacceptable. We need Congress to help us lower health care costs for North Carolinians.”

Pharmacy benefit managers (or “PBMs”) act as go-betweens for insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies. They create and maintain lists (also known as “formularies”) of prescription medications that are available through a particular insurance plan. Because getting a drug placed on a formulary can be extremely profitable, drug companies are often willing to offer PBMs significant rebates in exchange for choosing their products. In theory, these rebates should ultimately be passed along to consumers as lower costs for medications. But PBMs have not been transparent about the rebates that they have received, and the cost of prescription medications has continued to increase nationwide.

The attorneys general are asking Congress to pass legislation that will force PBMs to operate with more transparency and stop extracting exorbitant profits. The coalition highlights three bills – the DRUG Act (S1542/HR6283), Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act (HR2880), and the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (HR5378) – that each contain promising reform proposals and urges Congress to consider those ideas.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending the letter by the Attorneys General of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the letter is available here.