COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Lawmakers are hoping to keep prescription drug costs low for some of state’s poorest populations.
Tuesday, State Senator Bob Hackett (R-London) and State Representatives Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) detailed a bipartisan effort to crack down on what they called “predatory” practices by pharmacy benefits managers (PBM).
A pair of bills recently introduced in the House and Senate would prohibit PBMs from imposing additional fees or reducing benefits to 340B providers. The federal 340B drug pricing program, enacted with bipartisan support in the early nineties, requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to give discounts on drugs prescribed by community health centers or other safety net providers. The savings were designed for providers to stretch scarce public funding as far as possible.
In recent years, 340B pharmacies have reported being charged more than market price or denied contracts completely, presumably because of their 340B status.
“For the patients, it’s one less place for them to have access to care, which is a big problem in rural Ohio. You may have to drive miles to get to the next pharmacy,” said Logan Yoho, the Director of Pharmacy at Hopewell Health Centers in southern Ohio.
Yoho explained community health centers and pharmacies often rely on the savings afforded by PBMs in order to fund major programs.
“If 340B dried up altogether, we would have to close the pharmacy for sure and probably start closing clinics… because it is the only thing that keeps a lot of these programs running,” he said.
At least seven other states have passed or introduced similar legislation.