COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is outlining a four-step plan to control the amount that Ohio taxpayers would be billed for prescription drugs purchased for state employees and is calling for immediate legislative action on the recommendations.
This announcement comes amid previous comments from the Attorney General calling for greater transparency for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), private companies that contract with state agencies to manage drug prescriptions for clients of the agencies.
“PBMs have taken advantage of the lack of transparency and lack of centralization to the detriment of Ohio taxpayers,” Yost said. “This must stop. Centralization will allow for the comprehensive review of prices across the entire drug purchase portfolio to eliminate this problem.”
Yost believes these PBMs have used “secrecy and subterfuge” to increase their own profits instead of passing those savings along to customers.
“When state agencies entered into these nebulous deals with PBMs, they unknowingly hired a fox to guard the henhouse,” Yost said. “But he was a smart fox. He didn’t kill the chickens; he helped himself to the eggs.”
The Attorney General recommended a solution “based on market principles, not the creation of another government bureaucracy,” and described four objectives that should be met:
- State drug purchases should go through a master PBM contract that is administered through a single point of contact.
- The Ohio Auditor of State should have unrestricted authority to review all PBM drug contracts, purchases and payments.
- PBMs must be fiduciaries.
- Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) on drug pricing with the state must be prohibited.
Yost filed a suit against OptimRx on March 15 on behalf of the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation hoping to recover nearly $16 million in overcharges to the fund extended to protect injured workers.
Seven other PBM contracts with state agencies are also being examined by the Attorney General’s Office including: the Department of Medicaid; the Department of Administrative Services; the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio; the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio; and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.