There is growing bipartisan support for action on the crisis of high prescription drug prices, and it's sweeping the halls of the U.S. Congress and state capitols across the country.
Throughout 2019, Congress has held numerous hearings and considered several bills, while several states have pending legislation or enacted laws to lower prescription drug prices.
Last week, hearings on prescription drug prices were held in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, the House considered the Purple Book Continuity Act and Orange Book Transparency Act, and the Administration issued a rule requiring prescription drug companies to disclose the price of medications in television advertisements.
- This Week: House Floor consideration expected for the CREATES Act and for the Pay-For-Delay bill.
- Tuesday, May 7: Senate Judiciary Hearing, “Intellectual Property and the Price of Prescription Drugs: Balancing Innovation and Competition”
- Wednesday, May 8: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) issued a final rule on including prescription drug list prices in all direct-to-consumer television advertising.
- Wednesday, May 8: House Floor consideration of two bills: HR 1520, “Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019” and HR 1503, “Orange Book Transparency Act”
- Thursday, May 9: House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the drug supply chain. Pfizer, Amgen, others testified on Panel 1. AARP testified on Panel 2
Every state in session this year has considered legislation that would address the high cost of prescription drugs. At present, more than 20 states continue to debate legislation aimed at lowering prescription drug prices ranging from access to generics, transparency about proposed price increases, capping patients’ out-of-pocket costs, and allowing the safe importation of medications from Canada and other countries.
In Florida, both the House and Senate passed legislation that would allow for the safe importation of medications from Canada and other countries, and Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law.
However, the state plan requires federal approval in order to be put in place. Last week, President Trump signaled his support for Florida’s importation legislation and has directed HHS Secretary Alex Azar to work with Governor DeSantis.
Florida is not the only win for Americans.
- Florida: HB 19 establishes a state program to import prescription drugs from Canada and other nations with certain safety and practice standards. The state will need approval from the Federal government and hopes to start the program in 2020; President Trump has directed HHS Secretary Azar to be supportive. The bill was reconciled with a House version on April 26, and the amended version passed the Senate 27-13 and the House 93-20. Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill soon.
- Colorado: SB 5 establishes a state program to import prescription drugs from Canada. The state will need approval from the Federal government and hopes to start the program in 2021. The bill was amended in the House and passed 41-22 and was concurred by the Senate 20-15. President Trump has shared his support for the bill with Governor Jared Polis who is expected to sign the bill soon.
- Maryland: The Maryland legislature passed a first-of-its-kind bill that establishes a state prescription drug affordability review board. Under the bill, the board has the authority to review information from manufacturers on drugs with costs that greatly impact consumers and set an upper payment limit for these drugs that applies to all payer reimbursements in the state. The bill emerged from a conference committee on April 8 and passed the House 96-37 and the Senate 38-8. Governor Larry Hogan’s intent on the bill is unclear.
- Wyoming: HB 63 was signed into law on February 26 by Governor Mark Gordon and will prohibit gag clauses between PBMs and pharmacies. The bill passed without opposition in both chambers.
- New Mexico: SB 131 established an Interagency Pharmaceutical Purchasing Council, whose purpose is to review and coordinate cost-containment strategies for purchasing drugs across state agencies. The bill passed the Senate 24-15-3 and the House 43-20 and was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 28.
- Wisconsin: CMS granted Governor Tony Evers a 10-year extension of the SeniorCare Prescription Drug Assistance Program on April 15. SeniorCare is a state-based program designed to help seniors age 65 and older with their prescription drug costs.
- Nebraska: LB 316 prohibits gag clauses between PBMs and pharmacies and insurer claw back of payments made out of pocket. The bill passed the unicameral body 49-0 and Governor Pete Ricketts signed it on April 24.
- Indiana: HB 1029 creates an interim study committee on prescription drugs. The committee will study issues that consumers face related to Rx pricing, cost, and access. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb on April 10.
- Montana: SB 270 prohibits gag clauses that limit a pharmacist’s ability to discuss lower cost options with a consumer. The bill passed with nearly no opposition in both chambers and Governor Steve Bullock signed the bill on May 2.
- California: On January 7, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the first-in-the-nation Executive Order to create the largest single purchaser for prescription drugs and allow private employers to join the state in negotiating drug prices. On April 17, Los Angeles County announced it will join the new State Prescription Drug Purchaser System.