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Lawmakers want to help community pharmacies with bill

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(The Center Square) – Two Ohio lawmakers want to help community pharmacies and address prescription drug access across the state by making costs more transparent.

House Bill 505, which has yet to be assigned to a committee, takes aim at pharmacy benefit manager practices, which some say push smaller, community pharmacies out of business.

“Community pharmacies across the country are being bankrupted because of a system that requires them to dispense pharmaceuticals at a loss,” said Rep. Tim Barhorst, R-Fort Loramie. “Inevitably, this trend will lead to pharmacy deserts in all corners of Ohio. We need HB505 to keep our mom-and-pop pharmacies in business and ensure health care access for all Ohioans.”

Pharmacy benefit managers are third-party companies that contract with health insurance plans to develop and administer prescription drug benefits.

The companies negotiate discounts paid by drug manufacturers those managers, decide on claims, and create pharmacy networks.

According to the Center for Insurance and Policy Research, 66 pharmacy benefit manager companies control about 89% of the market with 270 million people in the United States in that group.

Barhorst and Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, said the legislation comes in response to numerous small, local pharmacies closing across the state due to how those companies handle drug supply chain reimbursements. They say pharmacies are operating at a loss and are forced to close.

“I have a lot of community pharmacists in my district who say they need help,” Stewart said. “These are good business people who have been in their communities for decades serving patients. We don’t want to have a situation where residents are driving significant distances to get vital prescriptions filled.”

The legislation would require pharmacy benefit managers to implement drug cost transparency measures to the superintendent of insurance, contracted insurers and plan sponsors. The report will include an itemized list of the actual cost of each drug from claims processed by the pharmacy benefit managers.

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