Bill to stop scam driving up drug prices moves forward

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill taking aim at a hidden scam that has been driving up prescription drug prices is just one step away from becoming law.

HB 1177 has now passed the House and the Senate.

The measure, sponsored by Delegate Todd Pillion from Virginia’s 4th District, would give pharmacists the freedom to tell patients about the cheapest way to pay for their prescriptions, and ideally put money back in the consumer’s pocket.

An 8News investigation in December uncovered what’s known as a “copay clawback.”

Pharmacy benefit managers or PBM’s, are a sort of middle-man between insurers and the pharmacy. Sometimes they charge a copay that exceeds the cash price, and that middle-man then pockets, or ‘clawbacks,’ the profit.

8News had uncovered some pharmacists had been sworn to secrecy about it.

8News also uncovered a gag order in the contracts that prevent PBM’s from telling the customer it might actually be cheaper to not use their insurance and pay for their prescription in cash.

Pillion’s legislation removes the gag order and prohibits PBM’s from penalizing pharmacists for sharing pricing information.

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