Senate Passes Singleton, Turner Bill To Improve Transparency Of Drug Utilization Review Board

Trenton – To prevent pharmaceutical manufacturers from influencing the drug review process, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and Shirley Turner that would require public members of the New Jersey Drug Utilization Review Board to disclose benefits and financial ties with pharmaceutical companies.

“The Drug Utilization Review Board evaluates different drugs and therapies for people under the Medicaid and New Jersey FamilyCare programs to decide what can be prescribed to patients. Equally as important, its members are charged with determining what the best options are for patients. That principle must be held in the highest regard and free from influence as board members prioritize what is in the best interest of our state’s residents,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington), Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “With this legislation, I want to bring transparency to the review process, by requiring members of the review board to disclose any ties they have to pharmaceutical companies. Their role on this board is for the betterment of lower-income residents and not personal gain.”

“Access to affordable prescription drugs is crucial for working families, and it is dependent on the discretion of the New Jersey Drug Review Board,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Members on the Review Board could be influenced by pharmaceutical companies, who may not have the interests of New Jersey families in mind. We should be made aware of any financial ties between members of the board and pharmaceutical companies to avoid any conflicts of interest.”

The bill, S-2035, would require public members of the New Jersey Drug Review Board to disclose any financial interests or benefits with pharmaceutical distributors, manufacturers or pharmacy benefits managers within the previous three years. They would then have to update their disclosure forms on a quarterly basis. Any member who fails to meet these requirements would be removed from the board or would be considered ineligible to serve if not currently a member.

The Drug Utilization Review Board reviews and selects pharmaceutical drugs prescribed under the Medicaid and New Jersey FamilyCare programs without additional authorization.

Generally, this evaluation involves both prospective review, which is evaluating proposed prescriptions prior to dispensing to make sure drugs are medically appropriate and cost effective, and retrospective review, which is evaluating dispensed drugs to ensure the prescriptions were medically appropriate and identify signs of fraud or abuse. Drug utilization review is typically undertaken by a state board that includes pharmacists and doctors.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 38-0.