WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — For years, some pharmacists were not allowed to tell patients about cheaper ways to pay for their prescription drugs.
Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow says Michigan pharmacists told her about the problem.
“They were being asked to sign contracts in order to get prescription drugs for their customers that included gag clauses,” said Stabenow. “They were very upset about that.”
The gag clause allows insurers or middlemen that negotiate with drug companies to ban pharmacists from telling patients about certain ways to save money.
“They can’t tell a patient if they just paid out of pocket for a drug it would cost them less than if they used their insurance,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Stabenow worked with Republican Senator Susan Collins on a bill that would make the clauses illegal, “and allow pharmacists to tell people the lowest price they can pay at the counter.”
The Senate passed the bill 98 to 2.
Azar says banning gag clauses has been a top priority in the Trump administration.
“We found that unconscionable,” said Azar. “We acted immediately in the Medicare program to make it clear that was unconscionable and impermissible.”
President Donald Trump tweeted about the issue last month, saying, “I support legislation that will remove gag clauses and urge the Senate to act.”
The bill is now on his desk, awaiting his signature.