Bullock vetoes high-profile bill meant to rein in drug prices; says it would do the opposite

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By: Mike Dennison

A bill meant to cut the cost of prescription drugs in Montana fell victim to Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto pen Thursday, as the governor said the bill might do just the opposite.

Bullock, a Democrat, vetoed Senate Bill 71, which placed new restrictions on pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs), such as requiring that rebates paid to the PBMs by drug manufacturers instead go to insurance companies, which would then pass on the savings to consumers…

Bullock’s veto drew strong criticism by the bill’s primary author, Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale, and other supporters of the measure.

“It’s simply astonishing that Gov. Bullock would side with the multibillion-dollar drug companies instead of Montanans and the doctors, pharmacists and other health-care professionals who supported the bill,” Rosendale said in a statement.

PBMs and health insurers, who would have been the primary enforcers of the law through their contracts with PBMs, opposed the bill and had asked the governor to veto it.

Local pharmacists, labor unions, trial lawyers, physicians and even drug manufacturers had testified in favor of the bill.

Rosendale’s office on Thursday put out a list of statements from bill supporters, blasting the governor, including this one from Kalispell pharmacist Gary Morrison:

“I am sorry to hear that (Bullock) sold out the best interests of pharmacies and patients in Montana for political contributions from the wealthy pharmacy-benefit managers,” Morrison wrote. “Montana should expect more pharmacy failures, and patients will suffer evermore limited access to needed prescription medications. Shame on you.”

Read more at KPAX