Pair of state lawmakers back legislation on prescription drug costs

Published Mar 16, 2018 at 4:00pm

State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-47, Rome, and state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-119, Utica, have announced their support for a bill that they say will help in fight the high cost of prescriptions.

The pair stay that the proposed legislation would prevent consumers from overpaying for medications by blocking a pair of measures commonly used that increase prescription costs for consumers.

The bill, passed by both the Senate and the Assembly, is a new measure that helps consumers become better informed about the price of drugs and prohibits two costly practices – gag clauses and clawbacks – used by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the lawmakers say.

Both practices have come into question recently as prescription drug prices continue to rise, the pair added.

Pharmacy clawbacks occurs when a patient pays the pharmacy a copayment that is more than the actual cost of the drug, the PBM then recoups or clawsback the excess cost collected by the pharmacy.

Some reports suggest clawbacks happen in 10 percent of pharmacist transactions, according to the joint announcement issued by Griffo’s office.

Gag clauses, meanwhile, prohibit pharmacists from telling a consumer the price of the medication or the fact that if they simply pay out of pocket the drug would actually cost less. PBMs prohibit such disclosure as it would limit their ability to clawback. This legislation would prohibit such practices.

“It is important that we free pharmacists from the constraint of gag orders in order to allow them to properly serve patients when it comes to prescriptions,” Griffo said. “This bill, and the one I sponsored similar to it, will allow pharmacists to use their education, training and professional expertise to make recommendations based upon what they know of their patient, their history and the medical condition for which they are being treated.”

“In many cases, their neighborhood pharmacist is an important source of information about medications and how to save money on health care,” Brindisi said. “This legislation is similar to laws that already have taken effect in other states, so that consumers in our state are not paying more than they should for prescription medications, at a time when health care costs are a major concern for many people.”