Pharmacists champion U.S. bill to lower drug costs for patients

Pharmacists are supporting federal legislation to create more transparency on drug pricing for consumers covered under Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. The Know the Lowest Price Act, passed by the Senate early in September, is designed to help patients find out if it would cost them less to buy medications through their insurance plans, or if it would be cheaper to pay for the medications completely out of pocket. Under "gag clauses," enforced by PBMs, pharmacists can only tell customers about cheaper out-of-pocket prescription costs if the patient asks for any cheaper options. "I have one pharmacist who always tells the story of a person digging in their pockets or bags to try and find the money to pay the (medication) price," said Elise Barry, CEO of the New Jersey Pharmacists Association. "But if they don't ask, the pharmacist has to charge them the higher price shown in the system." Experts say these circumstances affect many independent pharmacy businesses. Paul Goebel, licensed pharmacist and director of the counsel on public policy at the New Jersey Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said patients should have more access to drug pricing information so they can make the best decisions for their treatment plans and financial statuses.

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