Originally published by Holland Sentinel.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford, with the support of the Michigan Pharmacists Association, introduced legislation last week to help protect consumers against rising prescription drug costs.
Whiteford, R-Casco Township, said there’s a lack of transparency when it comes to the cost of prescription drugs as well as with the powerful companies that set those prices.
Many of these companies have contracts prohibiting pharmacists from being up-front with customers and telling them out-of-pocket drug costs could be cheaper than their insurance copays, Whiteford said.
“I was made aware of this issue by one of my local pharmacists in Allegan County,” Whiteford said in a press release. “It’s unfair to take advantage of people in this way, especially when it comes to paying for life-sustaining medications.”
Whiteford’s legislation would allow pharmacists to provide the current selling price of a drug upon receipt of a prescription and help pharmacists increase access to information about more affordable medication.
Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of Michigan Pharmacists Association, said the “gag clause” issue first became a concern for his organization about two or three years when prescription drug prices began to rise.
The legislation would disallow drug companies from having a gag clause in their contracts with prescription drug providers.
The issue of prescription drugs costing more if purchased with a copay and through an insurance company usually occurs with generic drugs, Wagenknecht said.
“The gag clauses have been around for a number of years, but in the recent years the copays have increased rather dramatically, which makes the issue more impactful for consumers,” Wagenknecht said.
Thirteen other states have enacted similar legislation to disallow gag clauses and protect prescription drug consumers.
“It’s time we put an end to gag clauses and give people the transparency they deserve regarding their prescription drug costs,” Whiteford said in the press release.