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Maryland legislation targets pharmacist ‘gag rule’ in PBM contracts: 4 things to know

Becker’s Hospital Review
January 9, 2018
Mackenzie Bean

Maryland lawmakers want to eliminate a “gag rule” that forbids pharmacists from sharing better deals on prescription drugs with patients, reports the Washington Examiner.

Here are four things to know.

1. Patients can often pay less for generic medications if they sidestep insurance and pay out of pocket, but contracts with pharmacy benefit managers forbid pharmacists from telling customers this information.

2. Maryland State Del. Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County, is working on legislation that would prohibit the contract provision, so pharmacists can inform patients when out-of-pocket costs are lower than insurance copays.

3. Mr. Bromwell modeled the legislation off a similar law Connecticut enacted Jan. 1. If the legislation passes, Maryland would be the sixth state to ban pharmacy benefit manager gag orders behind Connecticut, Maine, Louisiana, North Dakota and Georgia.

4. Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also called for an end to the gag orders as part of a larger effort to lower drug costs.

“Sometimes, pharmacists have gag orders they can’t tell the patient it is cheaper to pay cash than go through your plan. That is crazy,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in late December, according to the Washington Examiner. “Louisiana has outlawed those, but [in] most states [they] are still allowed. There would be bipartisan support on that.”

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