Springfield, Ill (WAND) – Lawmakers in Illinois are gearing up to take on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) in an effort to lower drug prices and save independent pharmacies in the state.

State Senator Andy Manar, (D) Bunker Hill, and State Representative Greg Harris, (D) Chicago, are launching measures in their respective legislative chambers to take on PBMs which are virtually unregulated and rarely audited in Illinois.  PBMs are the middleman between pharmacies and insurance companies and set prices those pharmacies can charge their customers.

“Outlaw predatory pricing practices,” Harris told WAND I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe describing his bill.  “Make insurers and middlemen treat independent pharmacies the same as they do the big chains and it’s a very pro-consumer bill.”

Independent pharmacies in Illinois argue they are paid very little in dispensing fees for prescription drugs and often prices and fees eat up their profits.  They warn that unless the legislature takes action many independent pharmacies will disappear which has happened in Lincoln and Logan County.

“If they are allowed to continue this practice, and allowed to stamp out competition, and drive prices up we should only expect that there are going to be fewer pharmacies as time goes on,” said Senator Manar.

In the past year independent pharmacies have closed in Lincoln, Taylorville and Mt. Zion.