Storms possible this weekend

Legislators take on pharmacy regulations

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill being considered by our state legislature this session could put a kink in prescriptions sent by mail.

The author of the bill wants those in charge of the mail order pharmacies to be regulated by the state board of pharmacy.

Representative David Derby, (R) Owasso, said, "We need to keep pharmacy care local. We need to let patients have the choice to go where they want to go."

The authors of House Bill 2100 said patients should not be forced to buy their drugs through the mail and should be assured they're getting the same safety information a local pharmacist would provide.

Rep. Derby said, right now, mail order pharmacies are not regulated by Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy.

Derby said, "We need to have the same regulation for PBMs in the state of Oklahoma as we do placed upon us by the state board of pharmacy."

PBM stands for Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

Derby said they contract with insurance companies and some local, but mostly mail order pharmacies in an effort to save money.

Pharmacist Justin Wilson, "We really want to get the decision back in the hand of the patient. We want patients to make the choice on where they get pharmacy services, where they get the best care and they way we improve patient safety."

One of the biggest concerns to local pharmacists is whether patients who get their drugs by mail also get the required safety warnings.

It is information you expect to receive from a pharmacist you deal with in person.

Derby said, "They have to have that one-on-one interaction with us because we have such a vital role in their patient outcome and their patient safety."

Wilson said, "Having the face-to-face interaction is the only way to make sure patients are safe and they're getting the right outcome."

Right now it is not known how this could impact the cost of medications.

That is one thing being reviewed. 

According to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national association that represents pharmacy benefit managers, House Bill 2100 will increase prescription drug costs in Oklahoma by about $1.7 billion. 

A PCMA official said, "Mail-service pharmacies will save Oklahomans $540 million over the next decade."

The bill is currently being considered by the Public Health Committee.