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First Look: PBM probe update


Pharmacy benefit managers aren't fully complying with a federal probe into their business practices more than a year and a half after the inquiry began, according to a letter from Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan shared first with Axios.


The big picture: The FTC expects PBMs and their related group purchasing organizations to finish sending the required information "very soon," but the commission can take noncompliant companies to court if they don't meet the requirements of the inquiry, the letter says.

  • The letter was sent to Sen. Chuck Grassley in response to a request he and other senators made last month for an update on the status of the inquiry.

  • The FTC first solicited information from PBMs in June 2022, and expanded the probe to group purchasers a year later.


What they're saying: Grassley, in a statement to Axios, called the letter a "deficient response."

  • "The agency ought to provide Congress a concrete status update, and PBMs must start playing ball and coughing up the information FTC requested on day one of its investigation," he said.


State of play: Khan said FTC staff are simultaneously pressuring companies to send over their documents and sifting through the information that has been submitted.

  • She told the American Medical Association earlier this month that she hopes to share some information from the PBM probe "in the coming months."

  • "I share your view that this is a time-sensitive matter of paramount importance," Khan wrote in the letter.


Between the lines: Khan also used the letter to urge Grassley, as the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, to increase the FTC's federal funding.

  • More money would help FTC "continue the vital work of promoting competition throughout the economy, including in health care markets," the letter reads.

Reporter: Maya Goldman

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