ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is happy his state is breaking new ground.

He announced Thursday that Maryland will become the first state in the country with a comprehensive plan to regulate the actions of pharmacy benefit managers, companies that administer prescription benefits for health insurers and employers.

The state's Legislature passed a group of bills this session that will require PBMs to register with the state, make certain consumer disclosures and stick to rules regulating their business practices.

"The passage of these bills recognizes the important issues highlighted in the settlements entered into by my Office," Gansler said. "It is crucial to regulate this previously unregulated business providing services to Maryland consumers and the health care market."

Other states have similar rules, but no package as extensive as Maryland's, Gansler said. PBMs have been the target of lawsuits brought by the state's Attorney General's office, leading to settlements with Medco Health Solutions, Inc., and Caremark Rx, LLC.

The goal of such settlements was to protect consumers from being switched to more expensive medications that did not provide any extra medical benefit.

One bill requires PBMs to register with the Maryland Insurance Administration so that the MIA can perform market conduct evaluations of their business practices, while another requires PBMs to explain themselves when they alter a patient's prescription.

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