A simple question could save you money on prescription drugs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Deb McGrath is only who she is today because of what happened 30 years ago.
"It was a seizure," she said. "We didn't know what life would look like for her a week, a month, a year down the road."
Her daughter, Victoria, was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy back then. Now, three decades later, Victoria is an occupational therapist with three children. McGrath, her mother, is the executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana and fights for others with the same burden.
"There is a huge burden," she said.
Besides the disorder itself and the varying seizures, sensations and feelings it can bring, there's the cost of medication. As McGrath said , some of it is very specialized and, as a result, very expensive.
"We get calls from families quite often that they're not able to afford the medication. What do we do?" she said. "When you can't afford the medication to stop the seizures, that is criminal."
But this week brought McGrath, and a nation of others, good news. On Wednesday, with the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump capped off a bipartisan effort to lower drug costs by attacking what are called "gag" clauses. Those clauses have prevented pharmacists from telling patients how they can pay less for prescriptions by either for a cheaper drug or even paying out-of-pocket. Trump signed the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act.
"We're giving patients the right to know," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar before Trump signed the pair of bills. "You can ask your pharmacist, 'Could I pay less for this medicine than what my insurance is going to make me pay?'"
To McGrath, it's nothing short of a game-changer.
"I think not only for patients with epilepsy but also across the board for other chronic health issues," she said. "When you go to the pharmacy, the pharmacist can tell you what the cost should be."
However, McGrath said it's up to customers to ask pharmacists those important, potentially cost-saving questions they're now able to answer, by law.
"And it is pivotal that you have somebody that you can trust," she said.
Mark Glasper, the executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, agrees. He said the new laws will only mean good things in a country where prescription drug prices are way too high.
Like McGrath, he said it's important for customers to find a pharmacist they can trust. Right now, he considers pharmacists the most underutilized members of the health care profession.
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