Legislation aims for better access to medications at lower costs

DOVER — Gov. John Carney signed legislation Tuesday aimed at allowing Delawareans to access prescription drugs faster and for less money.

House Bill 425 eliminates the “gag clause” that can exist between a pharmacy benefits manager and pharmacy, which bars pharmacists from disclosing price options to consumers. Such clauses can prevent patients from knowing about cheaper medication options available to them.

House Bill 441 allows pharmacies to dispense for an emergency a 72-hour supply of noncontrolled substance. It also authorizes a provider to sign a form indicating the requested medication is for a chronic or long-term condition and the pharmacist does not need to obtain approval from the provider more than once a year.

Both bills passed the General Assembly by overwhelming margins.

“We are working hard to make health care costs more transparent for Delawareans because they deserve to have access to direct and clear information – and that includes knowing the prices of their prescription drugs,” Gov. Carney said in a statement. “This legislation takes a necessary step to allow pharmacists to offer a more cost-effective prescription to Delawareans.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 27 states restrict gag clauses in an effort to help consumers save money on drugs. A study from the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics found insured consumers overpay for prescriptions 23 percent of the time.

“As a pharmacist it has always been my desire and obligation to try and do what was best for my patients. At times though, especially in regard to price, I wasn’t able to help my patients due to fear of losing contracts or facing fines and or penalties,” Erik Mabus, owner of Bayard Pharmacy, said in a statement.

“This new law will allow me, and all willing pharmacists, to now take that extra step and see where we can save our patients money. At Bayard Pharmacy, we deal with many patients on a fixed income that often have to choose between medication and food or paying their rent.

“This bill may not solve that completely, but it will allow me to try and help them, where previously I would not have been able to do so.”


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