New audit looks at prescription drug pricing

Local News

Are you being fairly charged for prescription drugs? That’s what a new audit from the Auditor General Eugene DePasquale investigated, and now he’s calling for more transparency in the drug pricing process in our state.

Matt Heckel reported from Harrisburg.

The report released by the Auditor General’s office focuses on Pharmacy Benefit Managers or PBMs. They negotiate with drug companies and insurers to decide which drugs are covered by health insurance plans. But are currently able to do that with little to no oversight.

“We love our patients,” said Don Sherman. “When we can help them through a problem, it makes our day.”

But Don Sherman, President of Royer Pharmacy in Lancaster says the current rules when it comes to PBMs makes helping his customers difficult.

“It’s very easy for patient interests, competition, and fairness to take a backseat to corporate profits,” said Sherman.

The Auditor General’s report finds a lack of transparency and oversight has led PBMs to possibly not paying fair prices to reimburse pharmacies and have made some pharmacists sign contracts containing “gag rules,” preventing them from voluntarily telling a patient how to save money.

“That’s not only clearly anti-consumer, it’s so egregious that even the White House has spoken out against what are so-called ‘gag rules,'” said DePasquale.

Eugene DePasquale is now calling on legislation to ban gag rules allow state oversight of PBM contracts and increase transparency into pricing practices.

“We need support and legislation to control some of this,” said Sherman. “Without it, I’m afraid independent pharmacy does not have a long future.”

Lawmakers at today’s news conference said they plan to start working on this legislation when they return to the capitol next month.

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