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Pharmacist shares struggles of rising drug costs at first task force meeting

MADISON (WKOW) — State officials and stakeholders have taken the first step to find a way to lower prescription drug prices in Wisconsin.

The Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices held its first meeting Wednesday in Madison. The group brings together lawmakers, state officials, doctors and pharmacists, to talk about the issues and implications.

“You get some prescriptions that may cost $100 or $200, or even $300,” said Janet Fritsch, who owns Corner Drug Store in Baraboo.

Fritsch tells 27 News some of her customers have been dealing with skyrocketing drug prices for things like insulin and blood thinners. In some cases it’s impacting their health, forcing them to choose between changing their doses or going without a potentially life-saving drug.

“An independent pharmacist is all about creating those relationships with your patients in your community, and have people have to make decisions like that, these are people that I’ve known for 20 years, or I know their family, I know their grandfathers or their grandchildren. And that’s hard to see them struggling with that and not knowing where to turn,” she said.

Fritsch is a member of the task force and shared her concerns about rising drug prices with the rest of the group, meeting for the first time to get a sense of where to begin to make a change.

“We really had a good, robust discussion and talked about a lot of really critical issues that we feel like can be helpful in reducing prescription drug prices,” said Nathan Houdek, deputy commissioner with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

Houdek chairs the task force and says despite gridlock on many issues in the Legislature, he’s optimistic this issue won’t be as divisive.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting all the right people around the table having the discussion about what are the key issues and where can we find the areas of agreement and I do think we can find bipartisan support,” Houdek said.

The task force will ultimately put together recommendations on how the state can reduce costs, analyzing data on strategies and pricing in other states.

The next meeting is set for January 22 and the group will meet monthly after that in locations across the state.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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