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WASHINGTON – If you live in this city, you’re probably awash in pharmacy benefit manager ads — whether you’re listening to an NPR podcast, reading the New York Times, streaming “Yellowstone,” or watching the U.S. Open Golf Championships. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 a.m., primetime, or 11 p.m.; in between ads for dog joint supplements and the “Barbie” movie, you will inevitably learn about these middlemen of the prescription drug market.

Ads eviscerating and glorifying PBMs have been around for years. But they’ve intensified over the past three months as Congress scrutinizes PBMs’ role in shaping high drug prices. Over a half-dozen U.S. House and Senate Committees have started investigating PBMs, advancing bipartisan legislation to increase transparency in the industry; ban PBMs from charging more for a drug than what they pay (and pocketing the difference); and require them to pass all fees, rebates, and other payments they receive to insurers.


Lobbying groups have responded to this legislative push with dueling campaigns in the court of public opinion. On one side is the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the trade association representing PBMs, which argues that pharmaceutical companies are responsible for high drug prices. On the other side is the industry group PhRMA, which points the finger right back, saying that PBMs are really to blame. Both trade associations have launched ad campaigns worth millions of dollars, blanketing TV, radio, social media, print, and beyond.

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