US Senate passes bill removing ‘gag rules’ from pharmacists

New Jersey residents could be able to get cheaper prescriptions thanks to a bill recently passed by the United States Senate.
The bill removes the “gag rule” that prevents pharmacists from telling customers about cheaper prescription options. These rules were usually clauses in their contracts from the Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers, who manage most of the country's prescription drug programs.
A 2016 study found that 59 percent of pharmacists are banned from telling patients when out-of-pocket costs are less than their insurance co-pay.
North Bergen resident Carlos Perez says that his insulin alone comes with a co-pay of $300 on Medicare. But he says that some of his medications are cheaper by paying for them himself. This is true about 25 percent of the time, according to a report by PBS.
“When you’re on retirement, and you receive, let’s say $2,000 or less, and you have to pay rent and buy food, how can you survive?" Perez asks.
The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez.
“We’re going to keep fighting for solutions to deliver real savings to New Jersey families,” Menendez says.
Pharmacists say that this is a crucial change for patients, who simply refuse their medication when they can’t afford it.
“They don’t think about it twice,” says pharmacist Jeffrey Graciano. “They immediately make a decision and their decision is to not take their medication.”
The "Know the Lowest Price Act" would go into effect in 2020 if it passes Congress and is signed into law by President Donald Trump.