California drug pricing transparency legislation heads back to full Senate

California's drug pricing transparency bill cleared another legislative hurdle Monday with approval by the State Assembly, reports The Mercury News.

The vote was 66 to 9 in favor of Senate Bill 17, which was initially introduced by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina. Multiple amendments have since followed in the Senate and the Assembly.

Under the proposed bill, drug makers would have to "give prior notice to purchasers before raising prices" and health plans would have "to report the proportion of the health insurance that is spent on prescription drugs," said Dr. Hernandez in a news release.

"Public anger at rising drug prices has been growing for some time, and Californians expect their government to do something about it," he said. "Drug companies threw everything they had at this bill, but the Assembly stood up for consumers. The reason Big Pharma hates this bill so much is that it's going to work."

The pharmaceutical industry has expressed opposition to the bill by hiring a number of lobbyists and running radio and newspaper advertisements, Dr. Hernandez said.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spokesperson Priscilla VanderVeer said in a statement provided to The Mercury News, "SB 17 can't deliver on its empty promises.

"It won't help Californians access needed medicine or make their costs at the pharmacy counter any lower," she added. "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."

SB 17 now heads back to the full Senate for a vote and would go to the governor if the Senate approves.


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