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Analysis: Proposed Arizona bill will lead to double-digit drug cost increases for patients and employers

February 23, 2022 | 2 minute read

SB 1161 would significantly increase the cost of prescriptions for complex conditions like cancer and medications received via home delivery

If enacted, Senate Bill 1161 (SB 1161) will force Arizona patients and employers to pay up to 15 percent more for their prescription drugs, according to a CVS Health analysis released today. The analysis examined the potential impact of the legislation on a representative group of the company’s pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients in Arizona.

SB 1161, currently under consideration in the Arizona State Legislature, would prohibit health plans from offering many affordable coverage options, potentially keeping patients from accessing affordable medicines at certain pharmacies. Specifically, it would ban preferred pharmacy networks, creating major negative impacts to the health insurance offered by struggling businesses all over Arizona because they would no longer be able to offer lower-cost pharmacy options to their employees. Just as health insurance plans use preferred networks of doctors, hospitals, and other providers, consumers select products that rely on preferred pharmacy networks to keep prescription drug costs down for patients. The CVS Health analysis clearly shows that Arizona patients, employers and working families will face higher medical costs under SB 1161.

“SB 1161 will hike health care costs for struggling businesses and prevent Arizona patients from accessing affordable medications. The bill is costly and misguided, and Arizonans deserve better,” said Leanne Gassaway, CVS Health Vice President for State Government Affairs. “CVS Health has worked tirelessly every day through this pandemic to serve our neighbors and communities across Arizona. Sadly, SB 1161 takes Arizona in the wrong direction.”

As working families and businesses across Arizona struggle with record inflation, SB 1161 will have severe consequences for patients receiving prescriptions via home delivery and for those managing chronic or complex conditions like cancer, hemophilia and rheumatoid arthritis. The bill jeopardizes the $1,000 or more1, per person per year, that PBMs save Arizonans, without addressing a key driver of prescription drug inflation: the high prices set by big drug companies.
The CVS Health analysis examined a representative sample of PBM clients in Arizona and found that, had SB 1161 been in place, actual 2020 gross prescription drug costs would have increased by approximately the following amounts:


  Mail-order pharmacy costs Specialty pharmacy costs

Overall cost increase


+14.5% +4.8%

Increased costs to health care


+15.0% +5.0%

Increased costs to patients


+9.4% +1.4%


CVS Health in Arizona

With more than 12,500 employees in Arizona and 730 pharmacists at nearly 200 retail pharmacy locations across the state, CVS Health plays a critical role helping Arizonans access affordable prescription drugs, reach better health outcomes and ultimately lead healthier lives. As one of the state’s largest employers and a fully integrated health care company, we are working to transform the consumer health care experience, making care more convenient, personalized and affordable for people in Arizona and all over the country.


Phil Blando
Executive Director, PBM Communications

Brittney Manchester
Director, PBM Communications