The issue of higher drug prices has drawn headlines and congressional hearings in recent months, but one industry group says its members may hold part of the solution to keeping costs down.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) represents pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs. These are the companies that administer drug benefits for employers, unions, and government programs, such as Medicare Part D. PCMA is touting a new report that says PBMs will save these beneficiaries $654 billion during the next decade.
In Illinois, PBMs will save $25.9 billion over the next ten years, according to the report. That includes $14.2 billion for commercial and private insurance plans, $9.5 billion for Medicare Part D, and $2.2 billion for Medicaid.
The report was prepared by health care consulting firm Visante for PCMA. The group has launched a national educational effort that “is focused on educating policymakers and opinion leaders on how PBMs reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of prescription drug benefits,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.
Merritt explained that, if you have a prescription drug card from your insurer, you can look on the back to find out which PBM serves you. He also said there’s a pharmacy services phone number that any beneficiary can call to find out how they can save money.
Merritt said there are a number of ways PBMs reduce drug costs, such as offering mail-service delivery of prescriptions, encouraging generic medicines, negotiating rebates from drug manufacturers and discounts from drugstores, or creating preferred networks of lower-cost, high-quality pharmacies.
PCMA has launched a new Web site and advertising campaign as part of its awareness effort. Those can be viewed at ThatsWhatPBMsDo.com.