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Pharma companies hire drug pricing middlemen, too – Axios

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Between the lines: PBMs caught a lot of criticism from the 7 pharmaceutical executives who testified before a Senate committee last week about drug prices. So Axios asked those 7 companies about the pharmacy benefits they offer to their employees.

Like many large employers, they work with just 2 of the largest PBMs.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb said it uses CVS Caremark. AbbVie and Pfizer declined to answer Axios’ questions, but a search of AbbVie’s and Pfizer’s employee benefits shows they use CVS Caremark for their employees, dependents and retirees.
  • AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson both said they hire Express Scripts for their employee drug benefits. Merck and Sanofi declined to answer, but both companies appear to use Express Scripts.

The intrigue: When it comes to public policy, drugmakers argue PBMs’ discounts should be delivered to customers at the pharmacy counter, rather than held back and used to reduce insurance premiums. But it’s unclear whether that’s how they operate.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb said that “in lieu of receiving rebates back directly from CVS Caremark,” its “employees, eligible dependents and retirees realize lower out-of-pocket amounts.”
  • Johnson & Johnson was the only other company to somewhat address rebates, saying “any savings go back to our employees” by “lowering premiums and out-of-pocket costs.”

Some companies, including Pfizer and Sanofi, cover 100% of the cost of their own brand-name drugs for employees, even if cheaper generic versions are available.

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