Drug Transparency Bill May Be First in Nation

MoneyinPillBottle

A bill in the California Legislature that would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to explain the prices for their expensive products is thought to be the first legislative attempt of its kind in the country.

The bill -- AB 463, by Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) -- would require drugmakers to report profits and production expenses for any drug or course of treatment costing $10,000 or more.

It is the latest attempt to deal with swiftly rising prices of specialty drugs. The bill follows congressional investigations, lawsuits and wrangling over state budget expenditures for drugs such as Sovaldi, a hepatitis C treatment that costs about $1,000 per pill or about $84,000 for a full course of treatment.

Chiu makes it clear that his bill does not intend to regulate or moderate prices. "Not at this time," Chiu said. "We continue to hear justifications for these sky-high prices for specialty drugs without knowing what the real facts are of what the cost drivers are."

"For years, policymakers have been focused on all of the drivers of our extremely expensive health care system," Chiu said. "Every aspect of the system has been scrutinized to make sure we have fair and transparent prices. Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been forced to publish a list of prices."

He added, "We've all seen skyrocketing prices for specialty drugs without knowing why. They're contributing to the overall cost of health care, threatening the long-term success of the ACA and they're putting enormous pressure on state budgets."

"I think it's very appropriate to have a conversation about how these prices are arrived at," Chiu said.

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