E-prescribing of generics may be limited by pending legislation

NEW YORK — Bills introduced in the legislatures of nearly a dozen states have pharmacy benefit managers and the generic drug industry fearing that the bills could lead to limits on doctors’ abilities to prescribe generics through e-prescribing.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the main lobby for PBMs, said the bills would prohibit doctors from seeing lower-cost drug options, including generics and preferred brands; would prevent the e-prescribing software from showing safety information; and would disallow lower-cost pharmacy options.

The bills are pending in Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

According to a copy of the Indiana bill that Drug Store News obtained from the PCMA, the proposed legislation would prohibit “interference or limitations” that allegedly could get in the way of a drug order being entered into the software and transmitted. These would include the display of multiple messages and the display of advertisements or messages that offer encouragement, endorsement or incentives to use a “specific pharmacy or prescription of a specific drug or device at the point of care.”

Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, has lobbied on behalf of the legislation.

“The e-prescribing legislation under consideration in several states would actually increase physicians’ ability to select the right therapy for a patient, be it branded or generic,” Pfizer spokesman Raul Damas told Drug Store News. “Pfizer strongly supports e-prescribing policies that preserve patient autonomy, reduce healthcare costs and ensure quality patient care. Pfizer is actively working with legislators, physicians and patient groups to enact e-prescribing policy that reflects our shared priorities.”

But the generic drug industry doesn’t see those priorities as reflective of its own. The industry’s main lobbying group, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, supports e-prescribing, as the PCMA does, but it also has expressed concerns about the bills, similar to the PCMA’s.

“The consumer may not know when there’s a generic equivalent available,” GPhA VP state government affairs Shawn Brown told Drug Store News. “I don’t know why you’d want to be less transparent for the patient and the physician, unless you’re just trying to protect your market share.”

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