Prescription drug prices have been skyrocketing recently, including basic medications like insulin, and a Montana legislator is introducing a bill to do something about it.

Dr. Al Olszewski, (R) Kalispell, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, will be introducing Senate Bill 71 on behalf of the State Insurance Commissioner, Matt Rosendale.

“Medications in Montana, as well as across the country are increasing rapidly,” said Olszewski. “Whether it’s insulin, or amoxicillin, or as you may recall, epinephrine, the EPPY pen. What we’re seeing is the generic drugs that have skyrocketed to prices that we would consider to be predatory. What they’ve been able to do is take generic drugs that are off patent and they’ve been able to purchase the rights from other companies to create that generic drug and they’ve eliminated their competition, so that they’re able to ratchet up the price to create significant profits for that company.”

Olszewski said Senate Bill 71 will provide some relief for patients who depend on these necessary prescriptions.

“The bill goes after companies that are called the pharmacy benefit managers,” he said. “They are middle men that sit between the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies and the pharmacy and they actually determine the pricing. They will take large chunks of the money that will go for direct patient care or the drug, and they’re doing so in an unregulated manner.”
Olszewski believes that once legislators achieve an understanding of Senate Bill 71, they will make it a bipartisan issue.

To help legislators to better understand the bill, Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale will hold a special meeting for lawmakers on Thursday in the State Capitol building.