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Drug price transparency closer to law

The Senate and House have overwhelmingly approved a prescription drug transparency program.

JAIME VALDEZ/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - 2018 Oregon Legislative AssemblySALEM — A bill to require pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose reasons for steep increases in the price of prescription drugs is headed to Gov. Kate Brown's desk for a signature.

The Oregon Senate voted 25-to-4 Friday to make the bill law, following overwhelming approval in the House earlier this week.

Consumers advocates testified that House Bill 4005 is an important step toward understanding the cost of health care and developing policies to address it.

"House Bill 4005 is an urgently needed measure to create transparency and accountability to help address the rising cost of prescription drugs, and its passage today is a big win for Oregon consumers," said Jesse Ellis O'Brien of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group. "In an overwhelming bipartisan vote in both chambers, Oregon lawmakers stood up to the powerful pharmaceutical industry and did the right thing."

When the price of a prescription drug increases greater than 10 percent, the bill requires the manufacturer to report the reasons to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, including information related to the cost of production, marketing and research. Manufacturers face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day for noncompliance.

The proposed program is modeled after one recently approved in California.

With federal inaction on drug prices, several other states have sought the power to monitor drug prices and enhance transparency around pricing. Among them are California, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Vermont, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Some other states that are considering or debating versions of the Oregon legislation, including at least Colorado and Illinois, O'Brien said.

Between 2013 and 2015, national spending on prescription drugs increased by about 20 percent and accounted for an estimated 17 percent of health care spending, according to researched published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Unlike most industrial countries, the United States does not negotiate the price of prescription drugs with manufacturers. As a result, Americans pay more for most drugs.

Two Democrats and two Republicans were chief sponsors of the bill: Nosse, Noble, Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield; and Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls.

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
email: pachen@portlandtribune.com
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