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PCMA Head to Step Aside as Pressure Mounts on PBMs

News  |  By Steven Porter  
   May 07, 2018

Trade group fighting two fronts in the contentious debate over drug pricing.

Mark Merritt, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, will step aside at the end of the year, after 15 years on the job, the trade group announced Monday morning.

The news of Merritt's departure comes as pharmacy benefit managers (PBM), which PCMA represents, feel increasing pressure from the government and private industry alike.

"We deeply appreciate his leadership guiding PCMA during a time when our industry grew and evolved dramatically amidst a political period often dominated by contentious health care debates," the group's board chairman Express Scripts President and CEO Tim Wentworth said in a statement.

"I am pleased that Mark has shared his decision now and will stay on and help ensure a smooth transition as we work to build on PCMA's successes and launch a search for his successor."

  • Government pressure: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, have each delivered incisive speeches with strong words directed at health plans and PBMs, criticizing a lack of transparency around their drug pricing and rebating contracts.
  • Industry pressure: While PBMs are pushed by the government on one front, they're fighting a second front with private industry, enduring criticism from the pharmaceutical industry and a series of major mergers with insurers. St. Louis–based insurer Cigna announced plans in March to buy Express Scripts for about $52 billion, after CVS Health announced plans in December to buy insurer Aetna.
  • More aggressive? PCMA's member organizations have become frustrated with the trade group and hope to push it toward "a more aggressive public posture," Axios' Sam Baker reports.

Market analysts have noted that the pressures on PBMs mean it's unclear whether the standalone PBM model will survive.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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