More than 40 pharmacies failed to post drug prices, leaving consumers in the dark
Attorney General Letitia James announced the conclusion of an investigation into pharmacies across New York State that found many have failed to post the costs of drugs to consumers, as required by law. As a result of the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office sent cease and desist letters to 44 pharmacies found to be in violation of the law, mandating compliance with consumer protection laws that require that pharmacies maintain a list of their prices for the 150 most commonly prescribed drugs. State law also mandates that pharmacies update this Drug Retail Price List at least weekly, distribute the list to consumers upon request, and post a sign notifying consumers of the availability of the list. The sign is required to be posted in the pharmacy where prescriptions are accepted or dispensed, or in the pharmacy’s waiting area.
“Posting prices of drugs is a basic method of transparency that enables individuals to make informed decisions about their health and their finances,” said James. “Our investigation revealed that too many pharmacies throughout the state have flouted these consumer protection laws, potentially resulting in New Yorkers paying significantly more for medications they depend on every day. We will continue to hold pharmacies accountable and work to bring down the costs of prescription drugs.
The requirement to maintain a price list and to post a conspicuous sign is not just a mere formality. The investigation revealed that pricing between pharmacies for the same exact drug can vary by as much as 300 percent. One drug’s price ranged over $600 between pharmacies.
Over the course of the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office visited more than 100 pharmacies across the state to request price lists and observe compliance with signage. The sweep revealed that 38 percent of pharmacies were in violation of the list and signage law. Those pharmacies in violation of these laws were located in: Binghamton, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Nassau County, Northern Manhattan, Plattsburgh, Rochester, Suffolk County, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown and Westchester County.
The cease and desist letters required the pharmacies to come into full compliance with the law within 15 days of receipt.
The investigation was coordinated by Assistant Attorney General Julia Kaplan Toce, overseen by Assistant Attorney General In Charge Deanna R. Nelson, both from the Watertown Regional Office. All Regional Offices and their investigative teams participated, overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber. Watertown Regional Office Intern Robert Blackstock provided extensive data analysis.