The Underlying Power & practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers

pharmacy benefit managers, zoom pics of 3 speakers from webinar

Have you wondered who pharmacy benefit managers are and what they do? While they were created to serve as an easeful intermediary between drug manufacturers and insurance companies, often times their business practices have lacked transparency, leading Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to do some investigations into their potential role in rising drug prices.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently hosted a web event, Probing the Power & Practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

Here’s the description of this 44-minute web event:

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are increasingly scrutinized intermediaries in the U.S. health care system, negotiating discounts on prescription medications for health insurers and employers while collecting rebates from drugmakers.

Even as PBMs have taken on a larger role in drug coverage and pricing in recent decades, including through mergers with insurers, the business arrangements that shape their finances remain unusually opaque. That has led to questions about the role PBMs play in the rising cost of prescription drugs, investigations by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission into PBMs business practices, and federal and state efforts to regulate those practices and require greater transparency.

On June 14, two experts joined KFF’s The Health Wonk Shop and series moderator Larry Levitt in a 45-minute discussion about the power and practices of PBMs, addressing such questions as:

  • How do PBMs make money?
  • What role do PBMs have in drug costs?
  • What legislation or other reforms are being considered, and how would they affect consumers?


  • Larry Levitt, Executive Vice President for Health Policy, KFF


  • Jennifer Reck, Director, Center on Drug Pricing, National Academy for State Health Policy
  • Karen Van Nuys, Executive Director of the Value of Life Sciences Innovation Program and Senior Fellow, University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Watch the recording to learn more about PBMs.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.