No more ‘gag orders’ allowed on drug prices

Legislation signed into law in Juneau on Sept. 4 eliminates use of a “gag order” that kept pharmacists from telling customers they can save money by paying from some prescription drugs with cash rather than using health insurance.

“We got this bill across the finish line this session because saving Alaskans money on health care costs is not a partisan issue, it’s an Alaskan issue,” said Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks. “I am especially pleased that we are getting rid of the preposterous gag orders imposed on pharmacists that prevent them from telling Alaskans how and when they can save money on prescription drugs.”

House Bill 240, signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker at a small Juneau pharmacy, also clarifies how pharmacies in Alaska can be audited by pharmacy benefit managers. During the process of developing and passing HB 240, Guttenberg said he learned of several instances of unfair audit practices. HB 240 clearly outlines how audits are to be conducted, so they are fair and not arbitrary. The bill also requires pharmacy benefit managers to register with the state and set  procedures they must follow when conducting audits.