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House sends NACDS-backed ‘gag clause‘ prohibition to President Trump

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores today praised Congressional leaders for their efforts to empower pharmacists to help patients reduce out-of-pocket drug costs as the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed versions of the Patient Right to Know Prices Act (S. 2554) and the Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553), thus clearing the legislation for President Trump’s consideration and signature.

The bills would help patients save money on prescription drugs by ending so-called “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling patients about instances in which they could save money by paying cash out-of-pocket instead of using their insurance benefit. S. 2553 pertains to Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage, and S. 2554 pertains to private plans.

In addition, S. 2554 includes a separate NACDS-backed provision that requires the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to be notified of any biosimilars patent settlements, as a way to prevent such agreements from delaying patients’ access to lower-cost drugs.

“We commend the leadership of the Senators and Representatives who recognized the importance of this issue and guided it all the way through the legislative process. It will help reduce out-of-pocket costs by empowering pharmacists to help patients identify the lower-cost option, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said, in a press statement.

In a national survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, 83% of voters said pharmacists provide credible advice for saving money on prescription drugs.

Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine is the lead sponsor of S. 2554 and an original co-sponsor of S. 2553. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. is the lead sponsor of S. 2553 and an original co-sponsor of S. 2554. Serving as original co-sponsors of both bills are: Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. In addition, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. is an original cosponsor of S. 2553.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Buddy Carter, R, Ga. introduced the Know the Cost Act (H.R. 6733), which applies to both Medicare and private insurance. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce passed that legislation on September 13. The House ultimately passed the Senate legislation to fulfill the requirement that both chambers must pass a bill in identical form for it to be signed into law by the President.

"The passage of this legislation presents an opportunity to highlight the critical need for direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform – which also would reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs. In fact, DIR fee reform, which would reduce patient co-payments, tops the list of issues being raised by NACDS Board of Directors members in Washington, D.C. meetings this week,” Anderson said.

NACDS’ engagement on drug-pricing issues is a key aspect of the NACDS “Access Agenda.” The Access Agenda platform is rooted in the concept that just as pharmacies provide access to better healthcare every day, they also stand ready to provide access to health policy solutions that are rooted in experiences on the front lines of care.
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