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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Pharmacy Association is calling for more regulations on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

PBMs manage prescription drug benefits for health insurers. The Missouri Pharmacy Association says SB 971 would result in rebates or discounts being given directly to patients. They say the legislation would also restrict PBMs from redirecting patients to specialty or mail-order pharmacies. The PBM industry has maintained they are able to use their size to purchase prescription medicine at a discounted price which benefits consumers.

Pharmacist Erica Crane spoke in support of SB 971 during a news conference at the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday.

“It feels awful to have to tell a patient that they can’t get the medication they’ve been on the last 10 years managing their disease state very well because their PBM has decided that is not on their formulary,” Crane said.

PBMs maintain if a doctor deems medicine necessary, there will be a path for the patient to receive it. Loretta Boesing is the parent of a liver transplant recipient. She blames a PBM for putting her son’s life in jeopardy. She said her son’s medication was mailed on 102 degrees without any protection.

“There’s little or no consequences when patient’s lives are harmed,” Boesing said.

The PBM industry maintains mail orders can be more accurate than pharmaceutical fills.

The bill’s sponsor is a retired pharmacist. State Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville) believes the legislation would help keep local pharmacies in business.

“I want to see our pharmacy profession to be able to maintain the vitality that it has and be able to serve their patients,” he said.

The PBM industry maintains the number of independent pharmacies in Missouri has grown over the past decade.

Read SB 971 here.