2019 spelled out in pills Despiteclaims to the contrary, the majority of today's PBMs usenear-identical methods for controlling drug spends and reportingvalue to their clients. Will that change in 2019? (Image:Shutterstock)

Hard to believe, but we are in the final stretches of yetanother year. That means most of us are beginning to think aboutthe new year, what changes might be in store, andwhat can we expect. While these points as they relate to pharmacy benefits will be addressed in my nextarticle, but first, I'll set it up by discussingwhat we saw in 2018 and how it might impact the year ahead.

In the years leading up to 2018, consolidation or horizontal integration acrosspharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) was a major driver of change.Competition was whittled down to a few, select jumbo carve-out PBMproviders that wield enormous buying power and influence throughoutthe entire pharmacy supply chain. Individually and collectively,they created a paradigm shift in which plan sponsors beganabdicating control to the PBM for oversight of the pharmacy program(including allowing drugs to be excluded from the formulary,accepting required step therapies/prior authorization, and morefrequent formulary changes).

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