Skyrocketing Prescription Drug Costs, a “Life or Death Matter,” Says Cantwell

February 17, 2023

Cantwell-Grassley bill would prohibit unfair PBM tactics that drive up costs for consumers

Pharmacist: “There’s obviously no way that a business could operate with these predatory and unpredictable fees.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, held a hearing on the importance of shedding light on the role Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) play in the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) re-introduced the bipartisan Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act of 2023 in January to prohibit unfair or deceptive tactics that drive up costs for consumers. Sen. Grassley testified before the Committee and the Committee heard directly from a pharmacist, oncology doctor and experts who explained how PBMs pervade nearly every aspect of the drug distribution system – from setting prices, clawing back pharmacy reimbursements and making care decisions.

“Today we’re here to talk about what’s driving up the price of prescription drugs—a life or death matter for Americans who have skyrocketing prices that affect them,” said Sen. Cantwell at yesterday’s hearing. “Rising drug prices have stretched Americans’ budgets over the past decade…Nearly 3 in 10 Americans report that when the cost of their medication goes up, they cut their pills in half, skip doses, or stop taking their medication. This is not the kind of healthcare choices we want people to make. The evidence suggests that PBMs are part of the high drug cost increase.”

Watch Sen. Cantwell’s Opening Statement

“The Cantwell-Grassley PBM Transparency bill directs the FTC to end well-known and documented PBM practices that drive up consumer prices, namely: spread pricing and clawbacks. Both actions game the system and hurt consumers,” said Sen. Grassley in his testimony. “Our bill has guardrails – it doesn’t give the FTC any new power or regulatory authority. The bill also puts sunshine on PBMs. Passing the PBM Transparency bill is an important step to lowering drugs costs.”