Local pharmacist and pharmacy owner Tim Mitchell recently traveled to Jefferson City as one of three Missouri Pharmacy Board members who testified in support of Missouri House Bill 1542.

Local pharmacist and pharmacy owner Tim Mitchell recently traveled to Jefferson City as one of three Missouri Pharmacy Board members who testified in support of Missouri House Bill 1542.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Morris, Missouri 140th District, is designed to prohibit certain actions by pharmacy benefit managers, known as PBMs. Morris is also a pharmacist and pharmacy owner in Ozark, Missouri.
"Two other pharmacists and I came up to testify how the house bill will help patients and pharmacies," Mitchell said. "The pharmacy benefits managers determine what co-pay patients have. Their role originally was designed to process claims but it's become more about making money."
The three pharmacists testified for dual reasons, to save patients some money as well as to keep small pharmacies from closing because of these unethical PMB practices. "PMBs are telling people that pharmacists can't tell you a less expensive way to get medicines," Mitchell stated. "It's turned out to where the companies are doing clawbacks."
Clawbacks are co-pays incurred by PMBs that exceed the actual cost of the drug, passing the additional cost to the customer. However, the pharmacy doesn't get the extra money which goes to the insurance company.
"We're protesting that," Mitchell said. "This bill needs to become a law to prevent that from happening."
He cited a case where a prescription charge was $101.00 that should have been $55.00  but insurance clawed back with an additional $45.00. That left the customer with the extra money out of pocket and the funds went back to the insurance company. "I haven't seen too many that extreme," Mitchell said.
Gag clauses are currently in effect, designed to prevent pharmacists from informing patients that there may be cheaper options on their medication, including a cash price.
Mitchell stated he has been told he couldn't talk with the local school district about possible savings for prescriptions through their employee insurance plan. "I received a phone call, then certified letter," he recalled.
If passed by the Missouri House, the bill could remove the standing gag clause and allow Missouri consumers to save money. "They (PMBs) think they're saving money," Mitchell said. "But they're putting more money in their pockets."
As owner of several local pharmacies, Mitchell believes he has a commitment to his customers, who are part of the community he calls home, to help when he can.
"It's important for people to know what's going on," Mitchell said. "It's a risk I'm taking. I'm not trying to do anything illegal."
As Missouri residents wait to see if the bill passes, Mitchell plans to continue to work for his customers. He is also a vocal supporter of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) since Missouri remains the sole state without one in place.
Mitchell owns Mitchell's Downtown Drug Store, Mitchell's Drug Store on Neosho Boulevard, and the Country Care Pharmacy on Business 49.