Brown, Northeast Ohio Pharmacist Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Help Customers Save Money at Pharmacy Counter

CLEVELAND, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a northeast Ohio pharmacist at Discount Drug Mart in Lakewood as the Senate passed Brown’s bipartisan bill this week to help Ohioans save money on their medication at the pharmacy counter. 

“Corporations try to squeeze every last penny out of patients, even going so far as to ban pharmacists from giving their customers information on how to save money,” said Brown. “The legislation we passed this week, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, will ban this practice for all consumers, regardless of where they get their health insurance, and help Ohioans save money at the pharmacy.”

Brown’s bill, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, would crack down on the outrageous gag clauses that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers how to save money by paying out of pocket for medicines rather than going through insurance.

The Senate passed Brown’s bill on Monday evening by a vote of 98 to 2. 

This bill is a follow up to the Know the Lowest Price Act, which passed the Senate earlier this month. That bill would prohibit 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. Monday’s bill would go one step further and prohibit this practice for all consumers, regardless of their source of health insurance. 

Brown was joined at the press conference by a northeast Ohio pharmacist from Discount Drug Mart to discuss why this legislation is important for pharmacists and patients. 

“As pharmacists, we want to do everything possible to help patients. Removing these restrictions that prevent us from saving customers money on their medications is an important step in the right direction, and we’re grateful to Sen. Brown and his colleagues in the Senate for passing this bill. We’ll continue pushing for measures that serve patients and help customers,” said Pete Ratycz, Pharmacist and Senior Vice President of Pharmacy for Discount Drug Mart.   

“The Cleveland Clinic strongly supports Senate Bill 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act. This bill would prohibit pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies from stopping pharmacists from telling patients when the cash price is cheaper than the co-pay that the PBM charges the patient,” said Scott Knoer, Chief Pharmacy Officer at the Cleveland Clinic.

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.