Legislatures and governors are continuing to respond to consumer demands for relief from the runaway costs of prescription drugs. Three more states have enacted measures designed to improve drug pricing transparency and help patients understand more about their medications.
So far in 2019, new laws, provisions in state budgets and executive orders by governors have been signed in 21 states, according to organizers of AARP's Stop Rx Greed campaign, which has been urging federal and state officials to find ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Included in these measures were bills in three states (Colorado, Florida and Maine) authorizing the importation of lower-cost medicines from Canada and other countries. Seven states (Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming) banned so-called pharmacy gag clauses that prevented pharmacists from telling customers that the list price of a medication may be cheaper than their insurance copay. And seven states (Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington) either created or strengthened drug price transparency rules.
More price transparency in Massachusetts
Included in the new Massachusetts state budget are a number of provisions intended to address the high cost of prescription drugs. One will require pharmaceutical companies to explain to the state's health policy commission how prices are set for some high-priced brand-name drugs being prescribed to Medicaid patients. The budget will also allow the commission to negotiate prices with drugmakers and hold public hearing on some high drug prices.
This provision “will shine a light on how they are charging the state through the Medicaid program, and these are drugs that are also commonly used by consumers,” says Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts state director. “This will give us more leverage in the debate in the public eye,” including with the myriad bills pending in the state legislature that would more directly lead to lower drug prices for consumers.