Pharmacy Benefit Managers Continue to Abuse Patients in New Volume of PBM Horror Stories

Logo celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Community Oncology Alliance

Logo celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Community Oncology Alliance

Community Oncology Alliance Releases Seventh in Series of Patient-PBM Horror Stories Reported by Cancer Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, May 23, 2023/ -- As Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, and numerous state governments initiate investigations into pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is continuing to tell the stories of patients and oncology professionals who are mistreated by these juggernaut middlemen in the seventh volume of its PBM Horror Stories series.

“Delays, Diversions, and Devastated Patients,” the new collection of stories, features real testimony provided to COA by independent, community oncology practices and pharmacies across the country. The serious, sometimes dangerous, stories include PBMs charging outrageous amounts to patients without offering to provide financial assistance, losing a patient’s medication and refusing to send a replacement dose, and forcing practices to play whack-a-mole to identify the correct PBM pharmacy to fill a patient’s prescription, with no help from the PBM.

- Click here to read COA’s seventh PBM Horror Stories paper.

The current reality for millions of Americans is that a small handful of multi-billion-dollar PBM corporations wield nearly limitless power and influence over what, where, when, and at what cost they can access their needed medications. The lack of regulations surrounding PBMs allows them to extort opaque fees and rebates from pharmacists at the expense of patient health, safety, and financial wellbeing. The lack of consequences for PBM misbehavior has allowed them to construct a labyrinth that patients, physicians, and pharmacies must navigate to treat disease. Lacking an easy way out, many patients suffer serious, and life-threatening, consequences.

“I have experienced firsthand the frustration and desperation of working against a PBM to secure medication for a patient,” said Miriam Atkins, MD, FACP, president of COA and a practicing oncologist at AO Multispecialty Clinic in Augusta, Georgia. “The current situation is not tenable. Congress has several bills in front of it that put the patient first and break the stranglehold that PBMs have on the health care system. It is time for them to act and level the playing field for everyday Americans.”

Several bills have been introduced during the 118th Congress that address abusive and monopolistic PBM practices. These include the bipartisan Senate Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act (S. 127), Prescription Pricing for the People Act (S. 113), and Help Ensure Lower Patient (HELP) Copays Act (H.R. 830), all of which COA strongly supports.

This is the seventh paper in a series produced by COA that exposes the abuses of PBMs, many of which are featured on which seeks to support patient education and advocacy on PBM issues. Visitors to the site can access the PBM Horror Stories series, educational videos, advocacy resources, and more.

Read COA’s full series of PBM Horror Stories at


About the Community Oncology Alliance: The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for community oncology practices and, most importantly, the patients they serve. For more than 20 years, COA has been the only organization dedicated solely to community oncology where the majority of Americans with cancer are treated. The mission of COA is to ensure that patients with cancer receive quality, affordable, and accessible cancer care in their own communities. More than 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every day and, deaths from the disease have been steadily declining due to earlier detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Learn more at Follow COA on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Drew Lovejoy
Community Oncology Alliance