US states progress drug pricing legislation Posted 14/07/2017

With attention being increasingly focussed on the price of drugs in the US, and with federal action on drug prices and cost transparency having stalled in Congress, several states have moved forward with their own legislation.

Nevada and California advanced measures requiring manufacturers to disclose operating costs and give early notification of any planned price increases.

Nevada’s bill focuses on two specific groups of drugs that are used to treat diabetes: insulin and biguanides. The law requires drugmakers to disclose information about administrative, manufacturing and marketing costs, profits earned, as well as the total amounts of rebates, coupons and other patient assistance programmes offered.

The bill also instructs companies to alert the state health department 90 days ahead of any planned increases in wholesale acquisition cost — and to list their sales representatives in the state, as well as the healthcare providers they have contacted. The Nevada legislature passed the bill. It is now waiting for Governor Brian Sandoval’s signature to become law.

Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, meanwhile, has allowed a law targeting generics drug ‘price gouging’ to become law without his signature. The bill was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates in April 2017 [1]. Although Governor Hogan did not sign the bill into law, he did not veto it, thereby effectively allowing it to become law. This makes Maryland the first state to pass a law to combat excessive price increases.

The law will allow the state attorney general to sue generics makers that increase prices by too much. It imposes fines on generics makers who raise the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of their products by 50% or more in one year, or if the WAC is more than US$80, or if three or fewer drugmakers are actively manufacturing and marketing the drug. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has hailed the bill as a way to check sharply higher prices for essential generics.

Frosh has also joined attorney generals from 39 other states in a federal antitrust lawsuit that alleges six generic drug manufacturers illegally collaborated together in an attempt to unfairly suppress trade; fraudulently boost and alter prices; and diminish competition in the US for two generic drugs.

There are reported to be 23 states with proposed legislation aimed at tackling the rising cost of prescription drugs.

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Reference
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Maryland has increased power over drug prices [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2017 Jul 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/Maryland-has-increased-power-over-drug-prices

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Source: Baltimore Sun,IN.gov,PolicyMed, RAPS,Reuters

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