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Pharmacy benefit manager regulation bill passes Senate

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Senate Bill 227 by Sen. Tom Butler, R-Madison, to put more state regulations on pharmacy benefit managers, was approved in the Senate on Thursday.

Pharmacy benefit managers are third-party groups that manage drug benefits for insurers, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, the state’s largest insurer.

Butler, a former pharmacist, and Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, also a pharmacist, have said for several years that PBMs have at times reimbursed pharmacies less than the cost of medications, putting pharmacies in financial jeopardy.

The bill prohibits PBMs from giving people a financial incentive to choose one pharmacy over another. It also says that PBMs can’t require people to use a mail-order pharmacy or a pharmacy affiliated with a pharmacy benefits manager.

Several senators thanked Butler and Beasley for their dedication to the issue.

In an emailed statement, BCBS of Alabama said the Senate-passed bill is a result of debate and compromise with several parties.

“The bill that passed in the Senate this morning contains numerous provisions that will benefit Alabama pharmacists, but it does not contain most of the original provisions that would have increased costs for our customers,” the statement said.

The bill now goes to the House.

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