29 April, 2015

N.C. lawmakers move to inject transparency into drug pricing

Staff Writer -Triangle Business Journal
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Patients in the United States spend more on prescription drugs than in any other nation and twice as much as in the United Kingdom. Prices for some brand-name drugs are more than double the price for the exact same drug in other countries.
Those are findings from a Commonwealth Fund report and now some North Carolina lawmakers hope to inject some transparency into drug pricing in an effort to keep drug costs in check.
The proposal – House Bill 839 – would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to publicly report cost and utilization information.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest health insurer by far, supports the bill and has long argued that drug prices play a major factor in escalating health care costs. In 2013 alone, Americans spent $263 billion on prescription drugs alone, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
North Carolina wouldn’t be alone in this kind of a law. Legislators in California and Massachusetts, for example, have introduced similar bills.
Though the North Carolina bill doesn’t seem to have gained much traction to date, and lawmakers here have other health care issues on their mind, Certificate of Need regulations and Medicaid reform to name just two, a bill like this can at least serve to begin the conversation down a path toward more pricing transparency in pharmaceutical costs.
Jason deBruyn covers the biopharmaceutical and health care industries. Follow him on Twitter @TriBizHealth or @jasondebruyn.


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