No more secrets: Congress bans pharmacist 'gag orders' on drug prices

President Donald Trump is expected to sign two bills Wednesday that ban "gag order" clauses in contracts between pharmacies and insurance companies or PBMs.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign two bills Wednesday that ban "gag order" clauses in contracts between pharmacies and insurance companies or PBMs. Ronna Hauser, vice president of payment policy and regulatory affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association, says many members of her group "say a PBM will call them with a warning if they are telling patients it’s less expensive" without insurance. She says pharmacists could be fined for violating their contracts and even dropped from insurance networks. After the president signs the legislation affecting commercial insurance contracts, gag order provisions will immediately be prohibited, according to a spokesman for Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who coauthored the bill. The bill affecting Medicare beneficiaries will not take effect until January 1, 2020. Under the new legislation, pharmacists will not be required to tell patients about the lower cost option. If they do not, it is up to the customer to ask. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), a pharmacist who sponsored the Medicare gag order bill, says he is not surprised by the bipartisan support for the legislation. "High prescription drug costs affect everyone," he notes.