4 State Legislative Actions Affecting Prescriptions

JUNE 05, 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
A series of recent bills at the state level are adding to an already busy year for pharmacy-related legislation.
Thus far in 2016, states have enacted or begun considering laws concerning birth control prescriptions, sale of dextromethorphan-containing products, generic drug pricing and payment transparency, and access to medial marijuana.
Here’s a breakdown of a few other recent developments in pharmacy-related state legislation:
1. Louisiana’s Pharmacy Operations Bill
The Pharmacy Operations Bill (SB 131) currently moving through the Louisiana legislature would afford pharmacists more flexibility to let patients know about cheaper drug options.
SB 131 would “allow a pharmacist to be able to sell a prescription drug to one of their customers in certain situations where they may be able to offer them a cheaper price than what their insurance co-pay is,” explained the bill’s author, Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles), to Fox 8 Live New Orleans.
Although the bill was filed several months ago, the Senate vote on May 11, 2016, came just days after a report from New Orleans-based investigative reporter Lee Zurich uncovered that patients with health coverage paid more for prescriptions with their co-pays than the drugs actually cost.
Although the current language of the legislation stipulates that it would take effect on August 1, 2016, Sen. Johns believes the implementation date would likely be amended if the bill becomes law.
“We may have to go back and look at some additional language because there are legal contracts that have already been signed by pharmacists with insurance companies, and we may have to deal with the dates in those contracts,” he said.
2. Mississippi’s Network Pharmacist Law
A new state law taking effect on July 1, 2016, will allow network pharmacists in Mississippi to decline to fill a prescription that would pay less than what it costs to purchase those drugs through the contracted pharmacy benefits manager (PBM).
If pharmacists decline to do so, they must provide the patient with information about where the prescription drug in question can be filled.
The law also stipulates that a PBM must pay “the appropriate benefit in full” within 15 days of receiving a claim from a pharmacist or pharmacy.
Many stakeholders, especially independent pharmacists, have touted the law as a victory against the sometimes-murky reimbursement contracts dictated by PBMs.