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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Big Pharma Uses Red-Meat Rhetoric in Fight Over Drug Costs

The 340B rule empowers select safety-net providers by providing discounts on outpatient prescription drugs and in reaching more eligible patients to provide comprehensive services.
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The 340B rule empowers select safety-net providers by providing discounts on outpatient prescription drugs and in reaching more eligible patients to provide comprehensive services.

Access to reduced-price medication is a necessity for many rural Missourians with low income.

Rep. Cindy O'Laughlin, R-Shelbina, the Senate Floor Leader, said Big Pharma is trying to confuse legislators with unrelated hot-button topics such as abortion access and illegal immigration in a last-ditch effort to stop the state from joining a program to force drugmakers to sell medicines at a discount.

"Appealing to nuclear topics, which really do not apply in this situation, is a disingenuous way to try to defeat a bill that is actually good for Missouri," O'Laughlin asserted.

O'Laughlin pointed out the program is transparent and uses the tax money saved to help low-income families deal with chronic conditions such as diabetes.

The drugmakers object to the government forcing them to give significant discounts, arguing hospitals' and for-profit pharmacies' bottom lines, particularly those owned by pharmacy benefits managers, are being exploited. Nationally, 46% of contract pharmacy agreements involve pharmacies linked to the three largest benefits managers.

Rep. Tara Peters, R-Rolla, introduced the 340B contract pharmacy access billand said the lobbying is absurd.

"Federally, 340B program does not allow for abortion drugs," Peters stressed. "Why would any legislation that we're trying to pass in the state allow for that? I mean, the thought of that even being in existence is absolutely ludicrous."

The Missouri Senate passed the bill (SB 751) on a vote of 27-3 on Monday, and now goes to the House.

The Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform. She moved to America in 2000 spending most of her time in California and Massachusetts. She has also had the opportunity to live abroad and travel to over 20 countries.