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Helping Americans Get The Truth About Prescription Drug Savings
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2019 Budget Bill Bumps up Part D Discounts by One Year

Celebrate Part D donut holeDue to a little provision in the 2019 budget bill passed by Congress today, fewer Medicare enrollees may need to look online to international pharmacies for lower costs. That’s because the Part D discounts mandated under Obamacare are being phased in a year earlier. These are discounts provided to enrollees who fall into the Medicare Part D coverage gap “the “donut hole”.

Without the new provision, people in the donut hole would be responsible for around 50% of the cost of their medication until 2020, when they would only need to cover 30%. Now they will only need to cover 30% in 2019 – a year early.

This is a small win but perhaps it was a consolation prize. Regardless, some drug price relief is always welcome. It’s the drug companies who are forced to cover these discounts so they’re probably none too happy about this. On the other hand, maybe there was a backroom deal. The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act (CREATES), which would have helped lower-cost generics come to market faster, was slated to be a part of this bill. CREATES had massive support from groups on the left and the right, but it was knocked out of the final bill.

I’m glad that older Americans get a small discount next year on prescription drugs, but I have the feeling we got thrown a bone.

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Rep. Norman Thurston’s Utah Drug Importation Bill

The Utah State Capitol

Utah State Representative Norman Thurston (R-64) has introduced legislation that would allow pharmacy wholesalers in Utah to import lower-cost pharmaceuticals to be sold within state lines. The bill’s goal is to lower the growing burden of prescription drug costs on the Utah budget and reduce out-of-pocket costs for Utah residents. The legislation is largely based on model state drug importation legislation drafted by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP).

The bill, H.B. 163, “The Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Act,” differs substantially from past state-based initiatives, legislation, and laws on prescription drug importation.  The most pronounced difference is that it seeks formal approval from the federal government to import medication from Canada. Past state laws on drug importation sought to circumvent federal regulations, such as in Maine, where the law was overturned in 2015. (more…)

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New FDA Tests Indicate Imported Drugs Are Safe

 

FDA Testing Lower-Cost Imported Medications

Tens of millions of people have bought medications from foreign pharmacies – despite the technical illegality of importing those medications. According to reporting by Kaiser Health News last month, the FDA tested imported medications, apparently to see if what Americans are doing is safe. All medications the FDA tested “contain[ed] the ingredients matching the medicines ordered.”

The Kaiser Health News reporting was focused on international pharmacy options offered by local governments and school. While that’s interesting, it’s not breaking news (I mentioned it here). The FDA testing imports and saying the medications are safe, albeit begrudgingly, is breaking news. (more…)

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