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Senate panel passes bill to end “gag clauses”

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has passed the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554). The legislation takes aim at “gag clauses” under which pharmacists are unable to tell a patient whether a prescription might be cheaper than their copay if they pay cash.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores applauded the move.

“NACDS believes gag clauses should not be allowed in contracts between health plans and pharmacies. Such clauses prevent pharmacists from informing patients when a medication can be purchased at a lower price without using insurance. The prohibition and/or removal of gag clauses in contracts between health plans, pharmacy benefit managers, and pharmacies will enhance patient access to medications, enable pharmacists to have improved relationships with patients, and keep healthcare costs for patients to a minimum,” said NACDS in a letter endorsing the legislation.

“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. This legislation would remove a significant barrier that prevents pharmacists from providing even more critical information to patients. We will continue to advocate for this vital bill and we urge its continued progress and its ultimate enactment,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said.

The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Susan M. Collins, R- with the original co-sponsorship of Sen. Claire McCaskil, D-MO, Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, and the Ranking Member is Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA.

Identical legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6143) by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TX.
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