Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden leads passage of legislation to lower drug prices, increase control for patients

September 25, 2018
Press Release

Greg Walden leads passage of legislation to lower drug prices, increase control for patients

Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and Know the Lowest Price Act pass House with Walden’s support

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today led the House passage of two bipartisan bills that aim to lower drug costs and give patients more control over their health care. With Walden’s support, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act passed the House unanimously after being passed in the Senate last week.

These bills will ban the use of so-called “gag clauses,” which restrict a pharmacist’s ability to inform a patient that their drug would be cheaper if they paid out of pocket than if they paid through their insurance. While there is already a regulation on this practice in Medicare Part D, this legislation if signed into law will end the practice across Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Part D, and group and individual health insurance.

Walden said today this legislation marks an important step forward to end this troubling practice of limiting information disclosed to patients, which he first heard about from an Oregon pharmacist.

“I rise in support of two bills that will bring some much-needed transparency into the drug supply chain, and help patients afford the medicines they need,” said Walden in a speech on the House floor. “I first heard about the gag clause issue from Michele, an independent pharmacist from Grants Pass, Oregon, in my district. She told me that as a pharmacist she was precluded -- under certain insurance contracts -- from telling a patient that their cash price would be cheaper than going through their insurance. Michele told me that she once even received a cease and desist letter for trying to help a child with a terminal disease access his medication. That is simply unacceptable.”

Michele Belcher, owner and pharmacist at Grants Pass Pharmacy, said earlier this month that gag clauses prevent pharmacists from fully disclosing pricing options to patients and need to be banned.

“Gag clauses are an unnecessary restriction on our ability as pharmacists to communicate with our patients," said Belcher. “That should never happen. I applaud Representative Walden for taking this issue on.”

On September 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- where Walden serves as Chairman -- unanimously advanced a combined version of these two bills to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Both pieces of legislation that passed in the House today now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. To read more about the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, please click here. To read more about the Know the Lowest Price Act, please click here.