Lowering prescription drug costs

By Sen. Sherrod Brown - Contributing columnist

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This week, two bills to help Ohioans save money on their prescriptions are headed to the president’s desk to become law.

Many Ohioans don’t realize that in some cases they could pay less for their prescription if they paid out-of-pocket, rather than using their insurance at the pharmacy counter.

That’s because companies that most customers don’t even know exist, called pharmacy benefit managers, often put gag clauses in their contracts with your local pharmacy — banning your local pharmacist from giving you the information you need to save money. One 2018 report found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter nearly a quarter of the time.

And it’s not that pharmacists don’t want to share this information with their customers. I spoke with Joe Muha, an Ohio Pharmacist, last week, and he talked about how he and his colleagues are frustrated that they can’t help their customers pay less for their prescriptions.

That’s why I worked with a bipartisan group of my colleagues on the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act, to crack down on these gag clauses, and ensure pharmacists can provide their customers with all the information — even the information Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know.

The Know the Lowest Price Act bans Medicare Part D plans from restricting the information pharmacists can give patients when there’s a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan, and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance. And the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act will ban this practice for all consumers, regardless of where they get their health insurance.

It’s all part of a larger effort to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

Last year, I introduced a plan to help control drug prices that one news outlet said, “combines every policy idea drug lobbyists hate.” And that’s something I’m proud of.

These bills are important, bipartisan steps we are taking, right now, to crack down on Big Pharma hiding information from customers, so that we can start saving Ohioans money on the medications they need.

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By Sen. Sherrod Brown

Contributing columnist

Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.

Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.