New Watchdog Bureau to Keep Eye on Pharmacy Industry, Prescription Costs

J.M. Lesinski
A shot of a medical building along Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently celebrated the creation of the Department of Financial Services' Pharmacy Benefits Bureau, whose purpose will be to supervise and provide licensing to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and observe the impact and cost of health care on consumers.

"As we continue our comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's crucial that we take every opportunity to improve the health care system and reduce costs for New Yorkers," stated Hochul of the bureau. "This landmark regulatory body will provide careful oversight to protect consumers from predatory practices in the largely unregulated Pharmacy Benefits Managers industry. My administration remains committed to doing everything in its power to reduce the burden of health insurance and prescription drug costs on New Yorkers."

The bureau will have the power to report problematic practices in the pharmaceutical industry and may be able to lower prescription drug and health insurance costs, which will in turn may help New Yorkers access medicine and protect small, independent businesses and pharmacies.

"Rising prescription drug prices not only increase the cost of healthcare for all New Yorkers, but place a particular burden on the elderly and exacerbate the systemic inequities in healthcare delivery,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett commented. “DOH and DFS will work in concert to promote transparency, preserve access, and curb the rising cost of prescription drug prices for the most vulnerable."

Additionally, as part of Hochul’s enacted 2023 State Budget, $5 million has been appropriated for the staffing and founding of the new bureau.

"PBMs are widely recognized as major players in driving up drug costs while profiteering at the expense of patients and pharmacists,” remarked New York State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried of the announcement. “They've been a black box operating in secret without effective regulation, and PBM mistreatment of independent pharmacists is getting worse as health plans merge with chain pharmacies. This law will provide effective regulation of PBMs and I commend the Governor, Commissioner Bassett and Superintendent Harris for moving forward with timely implementation."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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