“Gutted” Drug Transparency bill means status quo for Wyoming

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:25 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Wyoming Prescription Drug Transparency Act, created during the last Legislative session, was meant to stabilize the pharmacy industry and keep community pharmacies open.

But pharmacy experts claim the bill was “gutted” by Gov. Mark Gordon with line vetoes before it was signed. Maintaining a dysfunctional industry status quo.

“Me took out pretty much all of the protections that were in the bill that would help those pharmacies stay open and increase that access to care. He also took out anything that would create health savings for the patients or the health plans,” said Melinda Carroll, Dr. of Pharmacy and Wyoming Legislative Director.

Gordon said in a statement the burden placed on small business pharmacies was great and that the bill had important policy changes for rural, independent pharmacists, impacting Wyoming prescription costs in health care and for consumers.

Additionally, the Governor signed a directive for the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information to increase the amount of dispensing fee claims for independent pharmacies participating in Wyoming’s State Employees’ and Officials’ Group insurance program.

But pharmacy leaders say the changes don’t address the lack of transparency costs for insurance or drugs from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and that this should be a red flag to the public.

“Over 70 percent of my members felt we needed to be involved in this issue, we needed disclosure, and we needed a level playing field and that’s what we don’t have, that’s what senate file 151 would have done and unfortunately the governor line itemed all the reforms out of the bill,” said Tony Gagliardi, State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

Experts say reform needs to happen before medical deserts in Wyoming grow.

“Health costs will probably continue to increase and we will probably continue to lose small pharmacies, unfortunately. We’ve lost two small pharmacies in Wyoming in the last six months up in the Gillette community,” said Carrol.

Experts say rural communities now have to travel up to 70 miles to national box stores for their pharmaceuticals, leaving the economic impact of losing $185M to Wyoming’s economy annually.

Pharmacy leaders also state that three PBMs control 77 percent of the pharmaceutical market, making industry leaders question the legality of PBMs as the Federal Trade Commission investigates whether it’s legal or a monopoly.