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House bill on prescription drug affordability issues

CBS 19 News


A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives is taking aim at the prescription drug affordability crisis.


Representatives Abigail Spanberger and Jodey Arrington introduced the legislation on Thursday.


According to a release, it will also aim to hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable and lower drug costs for American patients.


A 2020 poll found that almost 90 percent of adults in the United States are concerned about rising drug costs.


The release says that in the face of these increasing costs, independent experts are concerned that the practice of using pharmacy benefit managers as middlemen between drug manufacturers, health insurers and pharmacies is helping to push drug prices up and increasing the out-of-pocket costs Americans face.


“As we rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, prescription drug costs remain a major concern for Central Virginia families and seniors. Since arriving in Congress, I have heard heartbreaking stories about how high prices have forced many of our neighbors to make difficult financial decisions. To fix this urgent issue, we need to strengthen transparency and accountability among PBMs,” said Spanberger. “For too long, prescription drug negotiations have been a black box, and as PBMs continue to rake in massive profits at the same time as Central Virginia families are struggling to pay for lifesaving medications, we need to shed light on how PBMs are potentially causing prices to rise.”


The bill, called the Improving Transparency to Lower Drug Costs Act, would hold such managers accountable by requiring them to report their aggregate rebates, discounts and other price concessions for prescription drugs online in a public format.


The release says this would help increase market transparency and help patients, pharmacists, employees and business owners understand and compare the discounts the pharmacy benefit managers get from manufacturers.