In the second installment of McDermott’s webinar series, HPE Europe 2020: What are the Life Science Transaction Trends in the Wake of the Sanitary Crisis?, moderator and McDermott partner Emmanuelle Trombe and industry experts Joseph El Khoury of Natixis, Cédric Garcia of EY’s Life Science Group, Dr. Erich Tauber of Themis Bioscience and Daniel Teper of CYTOVIA Therapeutics shared lessons learned from the first half of 2020, when COVID-19 changed the world. The panelists also discussed the outlook for life sciences transaction trends in the second half of the year and beyond.
Bills Ban Gag Clauses in Pharmacy Contracts
On October 10, 2018 President Trump signed two bills that ban “gag clauses” in pharmacy contracts. Congress passed the two bills—one for Medicare prescription drug plans (“Know the Lowest Price Act”) that will go into effect in January 2020, and another for commercial employer-based and individual policies (“Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act”) effective immediately—by almost unanimous vote in September 2018.
While many states have already prohibited the use of these clauses, this is the first such action on a federal level.
Gag clauses are sometimes found in contracts between pharmacies and insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers or group health plans and bar pharmacists from telling customers that they could save money by paying cash for their prescriptions rather than using their health insurance. If pharmacists violate the gag rule, they risk penalties and/or contract termination. Under the new legislation, pharmacists are not required to tell patients about the lower cost option, but they also cannot be contractually prohibited from engaging in the cost conversation.
The legislation is consistent with the position of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which, in May of this year, issued guidance stating that “gag clauses” are unacceptable in the Medicare Part D program.