Brown Pushes Pharmacy Benefit Managers to Prioritize Patients over Profits

During Senate Drug Pricing Hearing, Brown Presses Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to Provide More Transparency; Blasts Trump Admin. for Failing to Hold Manufacturers Accountable for Soaring Drug Prices


Download Production Quality Video of Senator Brown’s Questioning HERE

WASHINGTON, DC – During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today pressed five of the nation’s largest Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) – including CVS Caremark, OptumRX, and Cigna/Express Scripts – to prioritize patients over profits. During the hearing, Brown urged the five PBM executives to provide more transparency in negotiations between drug companies, insurers, and pharmacies and to do more to look out for the best interests of patients who continue to struggle with skyrocketing drug prices. Several PBMs are currently under investigation in Ohio for spread pricing and other tactics. Brown demanded that executives should reshape their business models in ways that ensure Ohioans benefit from the lowest possible price when they get to the pharmacy counter. 

In addition to calling for increased transparency, Brown slammed the Trump administration for not going far enough to tackle the issue of rising prescription drug costs in this country. While the administration has proposed a rule that would require PBMs to change the way they handle rebates, Trump’s proposal does nothing to actually require lower drug prices or address the fact that Big Pharma companies still set the prices of drugs and continue to gouge consumers. Brown has proposed a number of bills to address the high cost of drugs and force both Big Pharma and PBMs to come to the table to lower costs for patients, including his Stop Price Gouging Act and the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

Brown said the Trump administration needs to take a more holistic approach when tackling the issue of drug pricing and get serious about working to reduce prescription drug costs for hardworking Americans. 

“It is past time that Big Pharma put patients ahead of profits and rebuild trust with Ohio pharmacies, consumers and taxpayers,” said Brown. “There should be more transparency in the process. But the fact is the President’s rule does nothing to require Big Pharma to actually lower prices and stop gouging customers. If the President is serious about lowering drug costs he should support our legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and our bill to prohibit manufacturers from price gouging hardworking Ohioans.” 

Senator Brown has long fought to lower the cost of prescription drugs for hardworking Americans: 

  • Brown recently re-introduced his Stop Price Gouging Act, which would require drug companies to report and justify increases in drug prices, and penalize drug companies that engage in unjustified price increases with financial penalties proportionate to the price spike. 
  • Brown also introduced with Rep. Doggett (D-TX) their bill to put people over Big Pharma profits. Their Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate drug prices and, if drug companies refuse to negotiate in good faith, it would enable the Secretary to issue a competitive, compulsory license to another company that is willing and able to produce the medication as a generic.
  • Brown is a cosponsor of Ranking Member Wyden’s C-THRU Act, which would require PBMs to report on additional transparency measures related to rebates and discounts, and establishes a minimum percent of rebates and discounts which must be passed on from a PBM to a health plan.
  • Brown has also cosponsored the End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drug Ads Act, which would prohibit any federal tax deductions from being claimed for expenses related to direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs.  
  • He also introduced the Affordable Medications Act with Senator Smith last Congress, which is frequently referred to as “everything pharmaceutical lobbyists hate.” The Senator authored several provisions that were included in that bill, including his price gouging and biologics exclusivity provisions. 
  • This Congress, Brown has also co-sponsored the following bills:
    • The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which would allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to import safe, affordable medicine from Canada and other major countries
    • The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2019, which would permit the importation of prescription drugs from approved pharmacies in Canada
    • The Right Rebate Act of 2019, which would close a loophole in Medicaid that has allowed pharmaceutical manufacturers to misclassify their drugs and overcharge taxpayers by billions of dollars, and provide HHS with additional authorities to ensure drugs are properly classified
    • The Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, which would allow a biosimilar or generic developer to bring a civil action against an innovator drug company if the latter refuses to make available enough samples of a product for testing