- California just passed a bill related to the price of prescription drugs. It’s one of two bills in the state that confronts rising prices and coupons and discounting strategies used by drug companies. California joins a growing number of states that are tackling the rising cost of prescription drugs.
California is the latest state to pass legislation that curbs the practices of the pharmaceutical industry.
On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-17, which aims to increase transparency around the way drug prices are set and lower costs for patients.
“The essence of the bill is pretty simple: Californians have a right to know why their medical costs are out of control, especially when the pharmaceutical profits are soaring,” Brown said at the bill signing on Monday.
California’s taken a stab at confronting the rising cost of prescription drugs before. In the November 2016 election, a proposition that would have capped California state prescription drug prices at the price the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for them was defeated, with 54% of residents voting against it.
But the state’s attempts to curb drug pricing hasn’t slowed down. In 2017 alone, members of the state’s legislature have introduced at least four bills, two of which are still making their way through the legislative process.
SB-17, which got under biotech executives’ skin, requires companies to disclose more information that the executives argue could undercut competition, including a 60-day notice of increases to a drug’s price if it costs more than $40.
SB-17 faced a lot of opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
“It won’t help Californians access needed medicine or make their costs at the pharmacy counter any lower,” Priscilla VanderVeer, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry’s lobbying group, told The Mercury News. “It won’t even paint a complete picture of prescription drug spending since it only calls for information on list prices rather than the final cost after discounts and rebates.”
California’s legislature is also working to pass AB-265. The bill would prohibit drug companies from offering coupons and other discounts to brand name drugs if there’s a cheaper generic alternative available at the pharmacy. AB-265 passed the senate and the assembly in September and now awaits Brown’s signature as well.
In the past few months, a handful of states have introduced new drug transparency laws. Nevada, which passed its bill focused on the price of diabetes medications in June, has since faced a lawsuit from industry lobbying groups. The lawsuit argues that the law would infringe on trade secret protections and potentially violate patient rights.