President Donald Trump has signed two bills that would lift the so-called gag orders that prevent pharmacists from telling customers about how they can save money on prescription drugs.
The Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, which Trump signed in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday, would no longer allow insurers to bar pharmacists from telling consumers when paying cash would be cheaper than using insurance for their prescriptions.
The laws will allow, but not require pharmacists, to inform consumers of lower cost prescriptions.
Trump expressed his intentions to lower drug prices in May. During a speech at the White House Rose Garden, the president laid out plans to make drug companies more competitive, accusing them of “getting away with murder” with high out-of-pocket costs.
Among the strategies the president mentioned is eliminating the middlemen in drug price negotiations. The Trump administration appears to have taken the first steps with the signing of the two bills.
“So today, I am thrilled to sign two bills that will lower the cost of prescription drugs,” the president said in his statement released by the White House. “And, obviously, based on the name, you can tell that this gives people knowledge as to prices at different locations — where to buy the drugs. That will have an immediate impact, too.”
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the bills will give patients the right to know if there are lower-cost prescriptions available. He advised patients to always ask the pharmacists if they are getting the best deals on the prescription drugs that they need.
“This bipartisan legislative accomplishment was secured by President Trump’s historic leadership on drug pricing,” Azar said a statement released by the HHS. “This is just one step in the President’s plans to deliver better healthcare to Americans at lower prices, efforts that have already involved more action to bring down drug prices than any previous President has taken.”
The signing of the two bills is viewed as a consumer-friendly move to correct the gag rules that are widely viewed as an egregious business practice. It also came at a time when Americans clamor for lower drug prices.
A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that a majority of Americans believe that passing laws that would bring down prescription drug prices need to be a top priority for Congress and the Trump administration.
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