What We’re Reading: PBM Probe Stalls; CA’s Endemic Policy; Recalled Infant Formulas

A proposed probe of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) by the Federal Trade Commission did not win enough votes to go forward; California exits the crisis phase of the pandemic; Abbott infant formula has been recalled after 1 death.

FTC PBM Probe Will Not Move Forward

With a vote that failed to reach a consensus, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) halted a probe into whether reimbursement rates set by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) unfairly favor affiliated pharmacies at the expense of independent or specialty ones, Bloomberg Law reports. PBMs manage prescription drug benefits for health insurers and Medicare Part D plans, and have traditionally lacked strong federal oversight. The 2-to-2 vote was along party lines with Republican commissioners voting against, claiming the study’s plans do not adequately call for measuring how these middlemen could influence out-of-pocket costs.

California Moves to COVID-19 "Endemic"

California has become the first state to adopt an endemic virus policy against COVID-19, which includes emphasizing prevention and quickly responding to outbreaks as opposed to mandated masking and business shutdowns, according to The Associated Press. The plan was introduced by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) yesterday, who said the state was moving past the crisis phase of the pandemic and into a phase of living with the virus. By definition, a virus becomes endemic when it exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. The state’s emergency orders will not be immediately lifted, however.

Popular Infant Formula Recalled

The FDA has warned parents not to use 3 powdered infant formulas manufactured by an Abbott plant in Michigan as they have been tied with bacterial contamination, The Associated Press reports. Four infants have been hospitalized after injesting the formula, one of whom died. One reported case involved salmonella and the other 3 Cronobacter sakazakiim—a rare germ linked with blood infections. Abbott is recalling all potentially impacted formulas, which include certain lots of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare with expiration dates of April 1, 2022, or later. The FDA is also inspecting the company’s Michigan plant.