Pharmacists would get freedom to talk prices
PIERRE — Pharmacy benefits managers couldn't prohibit or penalize pharmacists who talk to customers about prescription drug prices, under a proposal that's now one step from final approval by the South Dakota Legislature.
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 11-0 for the ban Thursday. SB 141 goes to the House of Representatives for a possible final decision Monday afternoon.
The Senate on Feb. 5 voted 34-0 for it. If the House agrees, the measure heads to the desk of Gov. Dennis Daugaard for review and possibly his signature.
Rep. Spencer Gosch presented the bill Thursday.
"We're going to let the experts talk about what's going on here," Gosch, R-Glenham, said.
Dennis Duncan, a Parker lawyer representing Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said biotech companies employ about 2,000 in South Dakota.
The legislation would bring "some transparency to the relationship between the patient and the pharmacist," according to Duncan.
He said paying cash to a pharmacy for a prescription sometimes has been less expensive than using insurance.
Patients should be able compare prices, Duncan said.
South Dakota Pharmacists Association President Eric Grocott told lawmakers the organization supported it.
No one spoke against the ban. Committee members agreed with what they heard.
"I think this is a consumer-friendly bill," Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, said.
"It makes a little bit of headway on drug costs," Rep. Mike Diedrich, R-Rapid City, said.