(Washington, DC) —New special interest legislation (H.B. 2100) championed by the Oklahoma drugstore lobby could increase prescription drug costs $1.7 billion for the state’s employers, seniors, state employee plans, unions, and consumers, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said today.
H.B. 2100 would grant the State Board of Pharmacy authority to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the companies which employers and state agencies hire to negotiate discounts with drugstores. This would create a financial conflict of interest by granting the Board of Pharmacy – which is comprised of druggists – unusual regulatory power over those with whom they contract.
“Letting druggists regulate those who negotiate their payments is a conflict of interest and will increase health care costs for consumers and employers,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “Oklahomans should be concerned about a law that lets the ‘fox guard the henhouse’ and in turn undermines health care cost savings. Instead of launching attacks against employers and consumers, independent drugstores would accomplish more by simply lowering their own prices.”
The Federal Trade Commission examined similar Board of Pharmacy legislation and found it would make “collusion easier and increase prescription drug prices if the Pharmacy Board obtains and discloses PBMs’ competitively sensitive information to pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacists, and pharmacies.”
A recent legal analysis from Bloomberg/BNA that examined State of Boards of Pharmacy also noted:
“Pharmacy boards unlawfully expand beyond ‘self-regulatory’ authority in regulating PBMs, because the management of employer-provided drug benefit programs is not an activity of pharmacist ‘self-regulation.’ These are not ‘self-regulatory’ activities concerned with maintaining the professional competence of pharmacists. State pharmacy boards should be ‘reformed’ to confine their authority solely to ‘self-regulating’ the competency and behavior of pharmacists.”
While patients with short-term, acute needs continue to use drugstores, patients with chronic conditions like high blood pressure increasingly rely on mail-service pharmacies to save money and have prescriptions delivered to their homes. In Oklahoma, mail-service pharmacies will save employers, seniors, unions, and consumers $540 million over the next decade.
Prescriptions obtained through mail-service pharmacies are associated with less waste than 90-day prescriptions obtained through drugstores, according to recent research. To minimize waste, mail-service pharmacies are typically used only once a patient is stable on a medication after having finished several 30-day prescriptions from their local drugstores. When comparing 90-day statin prescriptions, waste was less for those prescriptions obtained through mail-service pharmacies than from retail drugstores.
Nearly eight-out-of-ten small businesses also want to be able to continue offering discounts that encourage employees to use the more affordable mail-service pharmacy option and consumers who use home delivery are strongly satisfied with it. With mail-service pharmacies, patients can get private counseling over the phone from trained pharmacists seven days a week, 24-hours a day.