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PBM group to appeal D.C. regulatory ruling


WASHINGTON--A trade group representing pharmacy benefit managers is appealing a federal court ruling that upheld fiduciary duty provisions of a District of Columbia law regulating PBMs.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina vacated an injunction that had been granted to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn. in 2004 to block implementation of the AccessRx Act.

The District of Columbia Council passed the AccessRx Act in 2004 in response to rising prescription drug prices. Title II of the act seeks to regulate PBMs by imposing fiduciary duties on them and requiring them to disclose certain financial information including rebates, discounts and similar payments.

However, the Washington-based PCMA maintains the legislation is unconstitutional and would increase prescription drug costs by approximately 10%.

"Regrettably, in deciding (Tuesday) to uphold Title II of D.C.'s AccessRx Act of 2004, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia declined to conduct a substantive review of the merits of the case and simply accepted the 1st Circuit's holding in PCMA vs. Rowe," the PBM industry trade group said in a statement. "PCMA plans an immediate appeal."

The National Community Pharmacists Assn., a industry trade group based in Alexandria, Va., characterized the court's ruling as "a green light" for more state legislatures to enact similar laws regulating the PBM industry.

Bruce Roberts, NCPA's executive vp and chief executive officer, said such transparency statutes would protect employers that provide drug benefits for employees and retirees from PBMs' potentially unscrupulous business practices.

"Everyone in the drug delivery system is highly regulated and scrutinized, except for pharmacy benefit managers," Mr. Roberts pointed out. "The giant PBMs have proven that they can't be trusted; why should they alone be exempt from government oversight?"