OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Normally, Dr. Amber Colville is at her New Wave Internal Medicine office seeing patients, but last week she got invited to witness President Trump sign a key executive order involving drug prices, Group Purchasing Organizations and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.
“Understanding that Pharmacy Benefit Managers are the middlemen between the patients and getting their medications and they are making billions and billions of dollars getting payments from everyone, but they don’t produce anything,” Colville said. “This was the first time a politician has used the word ‘kickback.’”
Colville says those kickbacks are what the middlemen call “rebates” from hospital groups and other medical organizations which, in turn, drive the price of drugs and medical supplies upward. “The Safe Harbor Act of 1987 was for group pricing organizations— which are the organizations— which are these big companies that negotiate prices on equipment for hospitals. The law was extended to Pharmacy Benefit Managers in 2003,” Colville added.
That's where her grassroots organization and others come in. Her first dip into this pool of information came on a previous trip to Washington, DC.
“I knew there was a problem with medications and people being able to get them, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I went to that meeting,” she said. “We’re not trying to get glory, we’re not trying to make money, we’re not trying to do any of that. Our goal is to try and fix the problems.”
So, what does that have to do with you? Colville says the executive order from the President recognizing the issue means the process is in place to perhaps get the Safe Harbor Act repealed so drug prices could possibly come down.
“That will be the real goal,” she said.