The Montana Senate Business and Labor Committee voted in favor of State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s legislation to lower prescription drug costs on Thursday.

Senate Bill 71 was written from scratch by the State Auditor’s office and was sponsored by Senator and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Al Olszewski, of Kalispell. It will reform the way health insurance companies contract with third-party middlemen in the pharmaceutical industry to eliminate pricing schemes and reduce consumers’ health care costs.

Spokesman Kyle Schmauch explained.

“Senate Bill 71 is all about reducing the costs of prescription drugs in Montana,” said Schmauch. “What the bill does is reform a lot of the pricing schemes that go on in the prescription drug industry and how it interacts with insurance companies.”

Schmauch said there was plenty of opposition to the bill from the prescription drug industry.

“The prescription drug industry and some from the health insurance industry came out and opposed this bill when it was heard in committee,” he said. “It’s going after bad practices that make them a lot of money but harm consumers, so yes we’ve been getting a lot of push back and a lot of opposition from the pharmaceutical industry on this bill.”

Rosendale’s office has sued Prescription Benefit Managers in court, led a legislative study on prescription drug prices, given presentations to legislators and others about the pharmaceutical industry, and taken other actions aimed at raising awareness and reducing drug costs.

The Bill will now head to the full Senate for a vote.