Gov. Kathy Hochul announces new bureau to 'tackle prescription drug costs'

Posted at 11:36 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 23:36:14-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — On Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new watchdog bureau to address rising prescription drug costs and regulate pharmacy benefit managers.

"I think it would be a good thing to actually bring more transparency,” Pharmacist Bradley Arthur said.

Arthur explained that pharmacy benefit managers or ‘PBMs’ are in a position to control many aspects of the pharmaceutical forums, like encouraging greater market share of particular drugs or influencing what drugs patients can get.

According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, three PBMs control nearly 80% of the market; CVS controls more than 30%.

"We have a good twenty plus years with the PBMs,” Arthur said. “We've seen the truth is basically and it’s not at all that they're managing costs."

Arthur said this likely will not go down without a fight. He said the PBM industry has fought all registration and regulation efforts in virtually every state.

So, he said it's likely PBMs will take this to court.

"I don't think it’s [regulating PBMs] going to do well,” Arthur said. “In New York State, where this has been proposed, we've been before the legislature for decades just trying to get PBMs to register."

The hope is that regulating PBMs will benefit both consumers and pharmacies.

Arthur said it will create a more competitive marketplace and add some much-needed relief.

"The cost of drugs is becoming insurmountable for people,” Arthur said.

He said inflation in the pharmacy sector has always been twice that of normal inflation numbers.

"If you don't want to pay high gas prices, you might look around, change your driving habits,” Arthur said. “But when you need prescription drugs, you don't have that luxury."

The Department of Financial Services requires all PBMs to register with the new bureau by June 1 and a month later, on July 1, they must submit a report, that will become an annual requirement.