The Legislature, partly at the urging of a senator from the Eatonville area, is deciding whether the state will allow 90-day prescription drug refills that proponents claim are best for patients’ long-term health and their pocketbooks.
The state Senate last week unanimously passed Senate Bill 5459, sending the legislation to the House of Representatives. Passage there would lead to it becoming law, permitting pharmacies to refill a 90-day supply of a drug under certain circumstances, rather than a 30-day supply.
The focus would be on “maintenance medications” like those that treat blood pressure and cholesterol, supporters said. The larger, less-frequent prescriptions would save patients money on co-pay fees rather than paying for three, 30-day quantities, which is common practice under current law. Controlled substances wouldn’t be eligible for 90-day dispersals.
“Other states allow the refilling of 90-day prescriptions and have had good experiences with it,” said Sen. Randi Becker, sponsor of SB 5459. “Not only does it reduce costs for patients, it has also been shown to increase the likelihood that folks will stay on the medication as there’s less hassle for them.”
Becker, who lives near Eatonville and represents the Second District, is chairwoman of the Senate Healthcare Committee, which heard testimony on the 90-day proposal during a hearing Feb. 19 in Olympia. Among those testifying was Jim Hedrick, a representative of the Walgreen’s chain of pharmacies and stores.
Hedrick said the option of prescription refills for 90-day supplies presents a “clear opportunity” for savings for patients. It also allows refills without any delays for medicine such as one he takes for blood pressure and sometimes must wait two days to have refilled when he gets to the end of his supply, Hedrick said.
Becker said her personal experience led to her support of 90-day refills. She said her husband is “endangered” if his medications aren’t processed quickly.