Washington is taking aim at drug industry middlemen. But can it break their grip on a captive market?

By Casey Ross
StatNews
February 16, 2018

As Washington’s interest in drug prices has spiked in recent years, a largely invisible industry has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are the middlemen who stand between manufacturers and consumers in the nation’s drug business. And they’ve been blamed by pharma companies for being the real profiteers in the current pricing system.

It seems at least some of that message is resonating with politicians. Last week the president’s council of economic advisers released a report on drug prices that raised alarms about PBM consolidation and called for policy changes to encourage competition.

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