State lawmaker takes on prescription drug costs, calls for FBI investigation

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A state lawmaker says prescription drug prices are getting out of reach for some, and he’s filing a bill to do something about it.

Representative Paul Ray knows he’s in for a big fight, but he says he’s willing to take it on because it’s a matter of life and death.

He says in one case a patient saw her insulin jump from $50 to $500 in one month.

“We’re talking about life-saving drug’s here. They don’t have an option, they take the drug or they die. And, I think that’s just the route we don’t want to allow happen,” said Ray, (R) Clearfield.

After studying the distribution process through the summer, he’s narrowing in on Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs.

Under his bill, rebates that are going to the PBM will be required to go to the consumer instead.

“I think in this whole corporate structure of how we are trying to make money, I think we have lost ourselves,” said Ray.

It’s not the first time lawmakers have taken this on.

During this year’s session, Representative Norm Thurston brought up the idea of importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

He plans to bring that back in 2019.

“There are many cases where the retail price in Canada is significantly lower than the net price in the U.S., even after you take into account rebates,” said Thurston, (R) Provo.

Representative Ray says resistance will be fierce, but something has to be done to get it in check.

He says the ultimate goal is to drive prices down.

“My philosophy is if we can fix it without legislation if we can get everybody to the table, let’s do that. And, sometimes it takes legislation to get everybody to the table to make it happen,” Ray said.

Representative Ray is asking the FBI to investigate how PBMs operate and treat consumers.

PBM representatives wouldn’t go on camera, but tell ABC4 News those rebates bring costs down in other areas.

They say under Representative Ray’s bill consumers could see their premiums go up.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...