030923SC2294 r

SPRINGFIELD – Under a new measure proposed by State Senator Laura Murphy, medications could be easier to obtain during shortages.

“When you are a patient dealing with a long-term illness or condition, the last thing you want to hear is that your medication is out of stock, but the name brand — which isn’t covered by your insurance — is in stock and you’ll have to pay hundreds more just to get the medicine you need,” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “It is even worse when you have to call every local pharmacy and get the same answer. We need to ensure better outcomes for our patients by ensuring that they have access to the medications that they need.”

Murphy’s measure would require health insurance and managed care plans to cover brand name prescription drugs if the generic drug is unavailable during a nationwide shortage.

Last summer, there were 309 ongoing drug shortages in the United States, marking the highest number in a decade. Among the medications affected are those used to treat cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and asthma. Insurance companies will typically cover either the generic or the brand name medication, but rarely both. During shortages, patients whose insurance only cover the generic are given the option to purchase the brand name medications at many times the normal cost.

“Making name brand medication accessible through insurance when generics aren’t available not only saves patients money, it safeguards their health,” Murphy said. “By creating this access, we promote equity in health care, ensuring that all individuals — regardless of their financial status — can receive the treatment they need.”

Senate Bill 2672 passed the Senate Insurance Committee Wednesday. It now goes to the full Senate for further deliberation.