NBC News reported last year on the agreements between pharmacies and insurance companies that had kept some pharmacists from disclosing cheaper drug options to consumers.
By Dartunorro Clark and Brenda Breslauer
President Donald Trump signed two bills at the White House on Wednesday aimed at lowering pharmaceutical drug prices by promoting greater disclosure in drug pricing.
The two bills the president signed — the Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patients’ Right to Know Drug Prices Act — are meant to prevent “gag clauses” in agreements between pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen who administer prescription drug programs for insurance companies, which pharmacists say kept them from disclosing cheaper drug options to consumers.
“It’s way out of whack. It’s way too high,” Trump said of the current state of drug pricing at the signing. “You look at prices in our country and for the exact same drug in other countries, it’s much lower — made in the same plant by the same company — and I said, ‘What’s going on?'”
He added, “Now, they’ll be able to see pricing and they’ll be able to see where they should go and as they start leaving certain pharmacies, those pharmacies will be dropping their prices.”
Trump has, in the past, railed against pharmaceutical companies and said drug companies are “getting away with murder.” An NBC Nightly News investigation last year uncovered the “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling patients about cheaper alternative drugs.
Under the new legislation, pharmacists will be allowed, though not required, to tell patients about lower-cost options.
Steve Hoffart, a local pharmacist in Magnolia, Texas, who previously told NBC News about the difficulties of “gag clauses,” praised the bills on Wednesday as a victory for consumers.
“It’s a big win for patients,” he told NBC News. “It’s a big win for patients in terms of allowing pharmacists to openly discuss medication prices to save patient money and health care costs.”