ATLANTA - Third-party companies that help set prescription drug prices would face tighter regulations under identical bills the Georgia House of Representatives and state Senate passed unanimously Monday.

Pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) negotiate between insurance companies and pharmacies to set drug prices.

But too often, PBMs hide behind unscrupulous practices that allow them to increase prices without sufficient oversight, said Rep. David Knight, R-Griffin.

Senate Bill 313, which cleared the state Senate in March, follows legislation the General Assembly passed last year to prevent PMS from steering patients to associated pharmacies with potentially higher costs.

The House amended this year’s bill as it went through the committee process to make it identical to House Bill 946, PBM legislation the House passed, also in March.

On Monday, Knight described the final product as a compromise between the various interested parties based on input from the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and the governor’s office.

The compromise requires PBMs to provide greater transparency by publishing data on prescription prices online. The amended bill also gives the DCH authority over auditing drug prices affecting enrollees in Georgia’s Medicaid program and the health plan covering teachers and state employees.

“[This] will be the toughest PBM legislation in the nation,” Knight said. “We can finally bring transparency to drug pricing and give choice to our patients.”

Whichever of the two bills gains final passage from the legislature will go to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.

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