Legislators propose disclosure of Rx prices

Consumers are sometimes shocked they can sometimes get better prices on prescription drugs from their independent pharmacy than from insurance, according to December news articles by the New York Times and Consumer Reports.   Researchers project as many as 400 million prescriptions a year could have been purchased by consumers ‘out-of-pocket’ at lower prices than what they were charged by their insurance plans.

“The system has become so complex that there’s no chance that a consumer can figure it out without help,” says Michael Rea, chief executive of Rx Savings Solutions.  PBMs often do negotiate better prices for consumers, particularly for brand-name medications, but that is not necessarily true for some generic drugs, Rea said.

Senate Bill 507 was introduced by lawmakers in the 2017 West Virginia Legislature amending the Pharmacy Practice Act (30-5-10) by expanding the scope of practice of pharmacists, permitting them to inform customers about lower cost alternatives for their prescriptions.

The legislation also allowed pharmacists to dispense and deliver such alternatives and inform customers if their copay exceeds the cost for their prescription.   Some pharmacists opposed the bill because contracts with PBMs prohibited their disclosing drug prices.

The legislation declared public policy to say:  “It is declared to be the public policy of the State of West Virginia that pharmacy customers be able to receive information that enables them to make informed decisions about the costs to fill their prescriptions.”

Senate Bill 507 was introduced by Senators Sue Cline, Mark Maynard, Richard Ojeda, Particia Rucker, Randy Smith, Chandler Swope, Tom Takubo and Ron Stollings.