May 26, 2017

Lembo: Drug price gouging bill must go further

PHOTO | Matt Pilon
PHOTO | Matt Pilon
Comptroller Kevin Lembo in Bushnell Park this past March.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who is pursuing a 2018 run for governor, is urging legislators to beef up a prescription drug price-gouging bill that passed the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 445, passed unanimously on Wednesday, is dense. Among its provisions is one that would ban "gag clauses" that forbid pharmacists from sharing certain drug price information with their patients, such as when a lower-cost option might be available.

If approved by the House and signed by the governor, the law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

"I commend the state legislature for taking an important first step in delivering discounts at the pharmacy counter. It's time to build on this success with bold and comprehensive reform," Lembo said in a statement.

Lembo, who is administrator for the state employee and retiree health plan, said state law should also require pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases and that there should be an enforcement system in place for when price hikes are deemed unjustified.

He also wants lawmakers to require that consumers receive the same drug discounts that pharmacy plan managers get from drug companies and that insurance companies offer reduced co-pays for drugs that manage chronic conditions.

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