WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in helping to pass the Know the Lowest Price Act. This bill, passed unanimously, cracks down on outrageous gag clauses that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could pay less for their prescription if they pay out of pocket. This practice is particularly egregious when used to prevent pharmacists from telling seniors – who are often on a fixed income – about their options.
Brown joined Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dean Heller (R-NV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) as a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Too many Ohioans still struggle to afford the medicine they need, and often, the culprit is price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations. By ensuring pharmacists can provide their customers with all the information – even the information Big Pharma doesn’t want them to know – we can save Ohioans money, improve health care, and increase transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Many customers have no idea that 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 many pharmacists are prohibited from telling their customers that a prescription to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may cost only $8 out of pocket instead of $20 through insurance coverage. One 2018 report found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter 23% of the time. And many pharmacists are frustrated that they can’t help their customers save money.
The Know the Lowest Price Act cracks down on this practice by prohibiting Medicare Part D Plans from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to provide drug price information when there is a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance.