July 21, 2024

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FTC to sue PBMs over drug prices including insulin

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FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan testifies during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Federal Trade Commission,” in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to sue three large U.S. health companies over their practices as middlemen who negotiate prices for medications such as insulin, as the agency argues they inflate costs for patients, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on Wednesday.

The suits are expected to target the three biggest so-called pharmacy benefit managers, UnitedHealth Group‘s Optum Rx, CVS Health‘s Caremark and Cigna‘s Express Scripts, the source said, confirming an earlier Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday about the agency’s plans. All three are owned by or connected to health insurers. 

The lawsuits will specifically focus on the business practices related to the rebates PBMs broker with drug manufacturers, the Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. 

A CVS Caremark spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that the company is “proud of the work we have done to make insulin more affordable for all Americans with diabetes, and we stand by our record of protecting American businesses, unions, and patients from rising prescription drug prices.”

A customer visits a CVS pharmacy store on February 07, 2024 in Miami, Florida. 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

An Express Scripts spokesperson said “the prices of insulin and other medicines are set by their manufacturers, who have raised list prices repeatedly.”  Express Scripts works to “combat the pharmaceutical industry’s high prices and lower the cost of thousands of medicines for patients and their health plans, and the data shows that we succeed,” they added.

The FTC declined to comment on the reported lawsuits. A spokesperson for Optum Rx did not immediately respond to a request for…

2024-07-10 16:12:15

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