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Buono/Vitale Drug Price Registry Measure Passes Committee

TRENTON – New Jersey consumers are one step closer to having easy access to prescription drug prices as legislation sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Joseph Vitale that would create the “New Jersey Prescription Drug Retail Price Registry” was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“Proactive price comparing is one of the best ways to help consumers save money on their prescriptions,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Other states like New York and Illinois have already developed prescription drug registries and their residents are reaping great savings thanks to those programs. The key is to make the registry easily accessible and user friendly.”

The bill, S-1396, would establish the drug price registry in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) for the purpose of making retail price information for the 150 most frequently prescribed drugs easily accessible by consumers. Under the bill, pharmacies would be required to report their retail prices to DHSS weekly in order to update the drug registry. Consumers would be able to log into the DHSS website to search drug prices by ZIP code.

“When it comes to making decisions about health care, we have found that knowledge really is power,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex and Chair of the Committee. “For those individuals regularly taking one or more prescriptions the registry will be truly empowering, saving them hundreds of dollars each year for only a few minutes work.”

The bill would also require the State Board of Pharmacy to prepare a list of the 150 most frequently prescribed prescription drugs and provide the list to pharmacies in both printed and electronic form. The bill would not prevent pharmacies from changing their retail prices at any time, provided that the pharmacy updates the price in its weekly report.

“The price registry is going to be a real boon to New Jersey’s seniors. It provides a single place where they can get all the information they need,” added Senator Buono. “For seniors who have a tough time getting around, it might otherwise be difficult for them to gather this information and get the best price.”

“The Internet allows people to price compare almost anything – from cars and electronics to clothes and groceries. Prescription drugs are the logical next step in helping consumers to make well-informed purchases,” explained Senator Vitale.

The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 6-0. It now goes to the full Senate for their consideration.

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