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'The cost is killing them:' Gov. Whitmer signs bills that lower prescription drug costs, provide transparency

The three bipartisan bills lower costs, ensure pharmacists can provide honest advice about treatment options and hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable.

LANSING, Mich — Three new pieces of legislation have been signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer that aim to lower prescription drug costs and allow for pharmacists to better serve patients.

"Today's bill is part of our ongoing effort to cut costs and put more money back in people's pockets," said Gov. Whitmer. "This legislation will make a difference in real people's lives right now. There are Michiganders whose prescription medication costs are in the tens of thousands of dollars a year."

House Bills 4348, 4351 and 4352 were introduced in early 2021 and after a year of bipartisan work, all three were signed into law on Wednesday.

The bills will provide Michiganders with lower prescription drug prices, allow pharmacists to provide honest advice to patients about their treatment options and will hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable.

“I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation that helps us lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Gov. Whitmer.

“For too long, unlicensed pharmacy benefit managers have been able to engage in practices that drive up costs for Michiganders whose lives and health depend on critical prescription drugs like insulin. This bill brings much-needed transparency to our healthcare system and is a testament to what we can do when we put Michiganders first. I am grateful for the work of my Prescription Drug Task Force for their recommendations and our legislative partners who joined with us to get this done.”

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Gov. Whitmer's Prescription Drug Task Force was created in January of 2021 and worked with health care policy experts and bipartisan members of the legislature to recommend solutions to the high costs of prescription drugs in the state.

“In 2017, 32% of Michigan residents stopped taking their medication as prescribed due to the cost,” said Republican bill sponsor Representative Julie Calley. “This impactful new law will directly improve the affordability and access of prescriptions. It also adds much needed transparency into our healthcare system.”

The legislation signed into law will provide the transparency that Rep. Calley spoke of by allowing pharmacists to share treatment options and provide the price of a drug that a pharmacy dispenses or comparative prices of generic and brand name drugs without being asked.

“I applaud the Governor for signing this bill into law,” said Democrat Representative Angela Witwer. “I’ve worked tirelessly to address escalating drug costs since becoming a state legislator. No one should have to choose between purchasing food and an essential medication, least of all our seniors who have given so much to our communities. I’m proud of the work we accomplished on both sides of the aisle and will continue to fight to ensure that our community members receive the medication they need.”

"Right now, people often shop around taking them hours and spending my miles on the road to find the best price," said Gov. Whitmer. "Some people travel across the border to Canada to get their prescription drugs, and some cry when they refill their medication knowing that the prescription drugs are saving their life, but the cost is killing them."

Parts of these laws signed today take effect immediately while regulatory measures will begin in 2024.

Another bipartisan prescription drug bill, House Bill 4346, is currently in the legislature that would cap insulin prices at $50 a month. The bill has been passed by the house and is currently in committee.

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