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RELEASE: Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen and Sen. Rich Draheim Introduce Legislation to Save Independent Drug Stores in Small Rural Communities

Thursday, March 12, 2020

ST. PAUL, MN—Representative Glenn Gruenhagen, (R-Glencoe), and Senator Rich Draheim, (R-Madison Lake), today announced legislation they are authoring to address business practices from Prescription Benefit Managers (PBMs) that are negatively impacting independent drug stores in rural communities—which could lead to decreased prescription drug access for Minnesotans.

“Following conversations with a constituent that owns an independent drug store, it became clear to me that PBMs are causing significant economic hardship for many rural drug stores,” said Rep. Gruenhagen. “Our bill will provide additional oversight and regulation of PBMs to ensure that business practices do not put independent drug stores at risk of closure which would result in a significant disruption in prescription drug access for Minnesotans that live in rural communities.”

“Local independent pharmacies, particularly those in Greater Minnesota are steadily closing their doors,” said Sen. Draheim. “These closures deeply impact our communities and are leaving vulnerable populations across the state with fewer options to obtain medication and other health services. We already know the negative impact that distance plays on health care outcomes, so we want to proactive and implement solutions that allow Minnesotans to continue to access their health care conveniently.”

You can watch a video of the press conference here.

The legislation builds on PBM licensing reform legislation that received nearly unanimous support in the House and Senate last year and was subsequently signed into law by Governor Walz.

 Rep. Gruenhagen and Sen. Draheim’s bill includes additional regulations to PBMs including:

  • Requiring health plans to limit cost-sharing to not exceed the net price of a drug.
  • Prohibiting a PBM from transferring prescription information to affiliated pharmacies for commercial purposes except for reimbursement, formulary compliance, pharmacy care or utilization review.
  • Prohibiting a PBM from requiring the use of a mail order pharmacy if the prescriber specifies that face-to-face consultation is recommended.
  • Requiring PBMs to cover generic versions of drugs if the cost to enrollees is less than the cost of the brand name or the total cost of the generic is less than the total cost of the brand name.
  • Requiring drug wholesalers to report information on repackaged drugs like the initial acquisition cost and the average sale price. The state’s Board of Pharmacy would report this to the legislature.

The House and Senate versions of the bill were introduced at the end of February and are awaiting hearings in each chamber’s Health and Human Services Committees.

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