Utah prescription costs: Lawmaker pushes bill targeting “medicine mafia”

Feb 10, 2020, 5:39 PM | Updated: 6:30 pm
Utah prescription costs: Lawmaker pushes bill targeting "medicine mafia"...
(Photo Credit: Paul Nelson)
(Photo Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – One lawmaker says there’s a “medicine mafia” keeping prescription costs higher than they need to be.  He’s introducing a bill that could force certain companies to give money back to consumers.

Rep. Paul Ray (R – Clearfield) says many people may be pointing the finger of blame at major pharmaceutical companies when it comes to drug prices going up.  However, he says there are other companies that are inflating prescription costs, and Ray says they’re doing so to make themselves rich.

(Rep. Paul Ray, speaking at the podium, outlining HB 272.  Photo credit:  KSL Newsradio reporter Paul Nelson)

Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs, used to do a lot of good work, according to Ray.  He says they buy medicines from drugmakers in bulk, then negotiate a price with individual pharmacies plus they can arrange for customers to get rebates out of big pharmaceutical companies.  In the beginning, Ray says they helped consumers get a better deal than they would have been able to get on their own.  However, over time, he believes PBMs developed a stranglehold on drug manufacturers and started raising rebates just so they can keep part of that money.

Ray says, “I asked some of the pharmaceutical companies, ‘Why don’t you just tell them, no, we’re not going to participate.’  The answer is, ‘If we do that, we’ve been told, point blank, that the PBMs would not buy any of our medications and put us out of business.’”

His HB 272 is reportedly getting secret support from drugmakers, but, he says they can’t publicly announce this out of fear of retaliation from the PBMs.

“They will take major financial hits from the PBMs for supporting what we’re doing.  They support it,” Ray says.

The bill would require insurance companies to publish the total value of the rebates they get from a PBM, plus, it would make major changes to what the PBMs are allowed to do with that money.

Ray says, “They don’t get to keep it.  They have to share it with the consumer.  Right now, that’s not happening.  The consumer gets zero out of that rebate.”

Ray has been researching this legislation for two years.  He accuses some of these companies of playing dirty and intimidating people who speak out about it.  He claims his prescription was canceled in 2018 after he demanded these companies be audited.  He says it happened, again, last June.

“I posted on Facebook and talked about how the DOJ and the FTC are ready to investigate antitrust issues.  Four days later, I get a notice that my prescription is canceled, again,” he says.

He hopes that if the PBMs lost their control of these rebates, the overall costs of the medications will go down.

Similar Articles;

Utah sends employees to Mexico for lower prescription prices

Diabetics go underground to counteract prescription costs

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
1 day ago
A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
3 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
3 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
3 days ago
Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...
Waverly Golden

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to more job opportunities.
3 days ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Utah prescription costs: Lawmaker pushes bill targeting “medicine mafia”