Harmison says PBM transparency reform will continue

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The president of a group representing the nation's independent pharmacies responded to a court ruling that will keep certain pharmacy benefit manager transparency requirements intact while other provisions are overturned.

Joseph Harmison, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia -- which found the law that intended to regulate pharmacy benefit managers was forestalled by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act -- was "unfortunate." The law gives PBMs fiduciary status, requires them to disclose conflicts of interest and drug substitutions, and requires them to pass along any rebates to clients.

"It's unfortunate that this court did not require PBMs to assume a fiduciary duty relative to their benefit plan clients," Harmison said. "Millions of Americans already benefit from the fiduciary duty that their financial planners must meet to recommend the best investment options rather than those that pay the adviser the most. The vigor with which the major PBMs oppose this requirement suggests that the interests of traditional PBMs and of employers and other health plan sponsors are often misaligned."

Harmison did add, however, note that pending PBM transparency reform legislation will not be hindered by the court's ruling, stating that certain PBMs "reaping record profits... finally [will] be accountable to employers, taxpayers and patients."

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