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February 21, 2022

Around the nation: FTC votes against an investigation into PBM business practices

Daily Briefing

    The Federal Trade Commission voted 2-2 against an investigation into how the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers impact independent pharmacies, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Arkansas, California, and the District of Columbia.

    • Arkansas: Northwest Health, a five-hospital health system with 2,200 employees, appointed Juli McWhorter as CEO of its Willow Creek Women's Hospital and Physicians' Specialty Hospital. McWhorter, who previously served as Willow Creek's COO and chief nursing officer, took over the role of the hospital's chief administrative officer in 2019. (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/17)
    • California: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival website last week released an update saying there will be "no vaccination, testing or masking requirements" at Coachella 2022 this April. Notably, the festival has been canceled three times due to the coronavirus. Similarly, organizers of the Stagecoach country music festival last week announced that there would not be any pandemic restrictions for individuals who attend the event in late April. Organizers for both festivals have cited local guidelines in their announcements. In addition, the California Department of Public Health recently eased Covid-19 restrictions when they lifted the statewide indoor mask mandate, citing a 65% drop in Covid-19 case rates since the peak of the omicron surge. (Falconer, Axios, 2/16)
    • District of Columbia: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday voted 2-2 against an investigation into how the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) impact independent pharmacies. Prior to the vote, the commissioners heard almost two hours of testimony from independent pharmacies and advocates who alleged that PBM business practices have harmed their businesses and resulted in closures across the country. Ultimately, commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson voted against the investigation, arguing that the study should be more consumer focused. However, FTC Chair Lina Khan, who voted in favor of the investigation, said, "We have an imperative to better understand and, ultimately, tackle anticompetitive conduct that may be contributing to sky-high drug prices and the decline of independent pharmacies." (Hellmann, Modern Healthcare, 2/17)

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