Momentum Builds for Bills Tackling the Rising Cost of Prescription Drugs

As consumers continue to feel the pain of rising prescription drug prices, the California State Legislature is moving a package of bills to help address these costs. The most high profile, SB 17 by Senator Ed Hernandez, and co-sponsored by Health Access, the California Labor Federation and UNITE HERE, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations committee today, now heading to a vote by the full Assembly. SB 17 provides advance notice and disclosure of prescription drug prices in order to gain greater transparency for consumers and purchasers. The bill has now moved intact further than last year’s stalled effort, SB1010.

People are reminded of prescription drug price hikes every time they visit a pharmacy. Too many patients skip their prescriptions, cut pills in half or go without other necessary care as a result of higher and higher drug prices. With upcoming final floor votes, the California legislature can take real, tangible steps toward addressing unexplained and exorbitant prescription drug price spikes. In particular, the advance notice will provide health purchasers a better ability to bargain, prepare, and manage rising pharmaceutical prices.

The bill is strongly backed by a broad coalition of consumer, labor, business, insurer, and other health organizations, but opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma continues to operate in the dark, and is spending big money against SB 17 to prevent any transparency or oversight of their practices. Notice and disclosure is routine in the health care industry, but Big Pharma refuses to face these same standards. This legislation can help answer the question, what are they hiding?

Learn more about SB 17 in this Fact Sheet

SB 17, along with the other prescription drug bills, need to go through the rest of the legislative process before this year’s session ends on September 15th. The legislation supported by consumer groups to put more scrutiny on prescription drug price increases also includes:

  • SB 790 (McGuire) to limit gifts from drug manufacturers to physicians or teaching hospitals.
  • AB 265 (Wood) to prohibit prescription drug manufacturers from offering discounts for name-brand drugs, if a less-expensive equivalent brand is available, preventing the use of higher priced drugs when unnecessary.
  • AB 315 (Wood) to require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to disclose information about drug acquisition costs and negotiated rates to a purchaser. The bill passed committee on a bi-partisan basis.

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