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Senate passes bill to stop pharmacy ‘gag clauses’ that boost drug prices

September 18, 2018

Senate passes bill to stop pharmacy ‘gag clauses’ that boost drug prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Monday that would make it illegal for insurance companies to keep pharmacists from telling customers how to save money by paying out of pocket for medicines instead of going through their insurance companies.

As a way to boost profits, some pharmacy benefit management companies impose “gag clauses” on pharmacists that keep them from telling customers if a prescription copay would cost more money than buying the drug without using insurance.

“By ensuring pharmacists can provide their customers with all the information – even the information Big Pharma doesn’t want them to know – we can save Ohioans money, improve health care, and increase transparency in the pharmaceutical industry,” said a statement from Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who cosponsored the bill.

A recent University of Southern California study found that 23 percent of pharmacy prescriptions filled in 2013 charged patients copays that exceeded the cost of their drugs.

The Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would block the “gag clauses” for Medicare Part D drug plans. Monday’s bill would affect all health insurance plans. The House of Representatives’ counterparts of the bill are pending.

The House Commerce Committee signed off on similar legislation earlier this month, but no vote is scheduled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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