The Sopranos of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, November 27, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Sopranos of the Pharmaceutical Industry


Sunday, the New York Times reported that drug companies, insurers, and pharmacies may "team up" to create effective monopolies. Company executives argue that this would be better for patients and would improve care and outcomes--however, nothing could be further than the truth. These conglomerates would further limit access and drive up costs.

Many patients and physicians have found frustration when attempting to prescribe a particular medication for a particular condition. Often only certain drugs are "on formulary" (which means they are on contract) at a particular institution. In the world of drug prices and availability, pharmacy benefit managers (or PBMs) serve as intermediaries between health plans, manufacturers, and pharmacies. PBMs are companies--such as Express Scripts, CVS CareMark, and others--that are hired by healthcare plans and tasked with determining what drugs are available in a certain plan and which covered patients have access. According to Forbes, Express Scripts, the leader in PBM market share, generated $101 billion in 2015.

How The PBM Mafia Works

Most PBM decision makers have absolutely no medical training and have no idea how or why a particular therapy works. They are simply there to manage cost, and to fatten their own wallets during the process. For every drug transaction, PBMs receive both a reimbursement fee as well as an administrative fee. In addition, when PBMs place a particular drug on formulary, they receive rebates and more fees from manufacturers which are not passed on to the consumer.

PBMs operate in a world with little oversight and even less transparency. In other words, PBMs are middlemen who are paid on both sides of the transaction--similar to the way in which Tony Soprano and his Captains ran their garbage business in New Jersey.

PBMs claim to drive down costs in healthcare by negotiating discounts, managing formularies to obtain rebates, encouraging generics and non-specialty medications, as well as increasing the use of their own mail-order pharmacies. In reality, however, PBMs actually drive costs up by using their "middleman" position to increase their own profits. They work to negotiate contracts with drug manufacturers, health plans and pharmacies that maximize their profits at expense of patients and physicians.

PBMs rely on a shady business maneuver known as "spread pricing," which is the difference between what PBM charges a health plan for a certain drug and what it reimburses a pharmacy for dispensing it. The PBM, in turn, is able to increase its margins as neither the health plan or pharmacy has any idea what the other is paid. PBMs have a great deal of power to determine how patients are treated by your physician through determining tiers of drugs, formularies, and preferred drugs.

One would think that efficacy, safety, and actual data would determine which drugs get "preferred" status--but in the PBM world, it's all about which drugs pay the best rebates. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Sopranos of the Pharmaceutical Industry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.