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Donald Trump signs bipartisan bills to boost drug-pricing transparency

October 10, 2018 GMT

President Trump signed a bill Wednesday forbidding “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling customers they can save money in some cases by paying cash for their prescriptions, instead of relying on their insurance and making the co-payment.

“Our great citizens deserve to know the lowest price available at our pharmacies,” Mr. Trump said at a White House signing ceremony with bill sponsors and Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, sponsored the effort, saying Americans were overpaying for their drugs because their pharmacists could only divulge the cheaper option if the customer specifically asked about it.

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Ms. Collins said she decided to act after watching a couple walk out of a Bangor, Maine, pharmacy without their medication, because their copay was too expensive. Home-state pharmacists also prodded her to act.

The measure received overwhelming approval in Congress and was part of Mr. Trump’s drug-pricing initiative.

Mr. Trump also signed a bill by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, that says plans under Medicare cannot forbid pharmacists from explaining to consumers they could pay less for some drugs by deciding not to use their insurance.

The president joked a bit with Mrs. Stabenow, saying he doesn’t know the Democrat very well but that they can agree on slashing costs.

“If there’s anything bipartisan, it’s lowering drug prices,” Mr. Trump said.