Drug firms probed

NEW YORK – The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating contracts between drugmakers and companies that manage prescription benefits, according to regulatory filings.

Federal prosecutors have approached at least three companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co and Endo International Plc, demanding information about their contracts with pharmacy benefit managers.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, which administer drug benefits for employers and health plans and also run large mail-order pharmacies, have been challenging the rising cost of new medications.

When drugs are knocked off their formularies, patients may have to pay full price for them. PBMs often keep or dump a product depending on whether they can obtain favorable pricing.

J&J said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday it had received a “civil investigative demand,” seeking information about its contractual relationships with pharmacy benefit managers over some of its products from early 2006 through the present.

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