Several states are proposing laws to cut drug prices

Several states are proposing legislation to lower drug prices in light of a lack of federal policy changes, Kaiser Health News reported

Eighty-seven percent of Americans favor federal action to lower drug prices, according to a survey by Politico and Harvard University released last month, making it the public's second-highest policy priority, according to Kaiser Health News. 

But bipartisan bills proposed by Congress last year that would have punished drugmakers for raising prices above inflation rates and capped out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries were never passed, Kaiser Health News reported Feb. 12.

"If we waited for Congress, we'd have moss on our backs," Washington state Sen. Karen Keiser, told Kaiser Health News. 

Lawmakers in Hawaii, Maine and Washington have recently introduced bills that would impose an 80 percent tax on drug price increases that the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review determines aren't supported by evidence of improved clinical outcomes. The states would require drugmakers to report total in-state sales of their drugs and the price difference since the previous year to assess the tax on the drugmaker, according to Kaiser Health News. The revenue generated by the tax would be used to fund programs to help people afford their medications. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker recently proposed a penalty on price hikes for a range of drugs as part of a new budget proposal, and estimated the penalty would bring in $70 million in the first year, Kaiser Health News reported. 

Lawmakers in Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Rhode Island have proposed bills that would tie the costs paid by state-run and commercial payers to the costs paid by the four most populous Canadian provinces for up to 250 of the costliest drugs, according to Kaiser Health News. That could reduce drug prices by an average of 75 percent, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. 

Drugmakers largely oppose such measures, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry's largest lobbying group, told Kaiser Health News: "The outcomes of these policies would only make it harder for people to get the medicines they need and would threaten the crucial innovation necessary to get us out of a global pandemic."

Read the full article here

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