Independent pharmacists and pharmacy owners witness Medicare Part D’s convoluted and opaque prescription drug rebate system in action every day. However, the true victims of this broken rebate distribution system, Medicare beneficiaries, are often unaware of the impact it has on them at the pharmacy counter. These beneficiaries are often the most vulnerable, relying on affordable access to prescription medications and trusting that the system will produce a fair price for the drugs they need.
As the past president and current member of Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, we have proudly advocated for exactly that — greater transparency in the drug pricing system for the benefit of American physicians, pharmacists, and most importantly, patients. As an organization of independent pharmacists and pharmacy owners who are passionate about exposing the dangers of the anti-competitive nature of pharmacy benefit managers, it is critical that we support initiatives that would hold these bad actors accountable and better the drug rebate system for all. Pharmacy benefit managers serve as middlemen who place unnecessary barriers between patients and their ability to pay for their prescriptions.
Recently, there have been a variety of proposals aimed at lowering prescription drug prices and health care costs overall. Without a doubt, one of the most impactful has been the recent proposal by the Trump administration to amend the drug rebate system in order to streamline the process for patients. This proposal would not only serve to increase transparency in the rebate distribution process, but would also achieve a critical goal — putting money back into the pockets of beneficiaries. Pharmacy benefit managers market themselves as partners in the drug rebate system, when, in reality, they are a $300 billion industry that creates additional barriers to accessing affordable prescription medications for beneficiaries.
The administration, with its recently announced rebate reform proposal, would not only lower out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, but would also fundamentally alter the rebate system by preventing middlemen from utilizing rebates for their own benefit. Our priority is transparency, and initiatives to improve rebate distribution under the Medicare Part D program contribute to furthering this critical undertaking. The proposed rule, if implemented, would fix the broken drug rebate system by ensuring that savings created via Medicare rebates are put directly into the hands of the beneficiaries who need them.
It is our hope that the administration’s proposal to streamline this convoluted process is swiftly enacted and enforced, for the sake of American patients nationwide and those who care about their health and wellbeing.
Teresa Dickinson, owner of Melrose Pharmacy, is past president of Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency.