ST. PAUL, MN – Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) today announced a bipartisan plan to combat skyrocketing prescription drug pricing. Advocates from the health care industry, labor and business community and Minnesotans impacted by high prescription drug prices joined the legislators and spoke about the need to create more transparency of prescription drug pricing.
Nikki Foster, a Minnesota resident from Brooklyn Park, has struggled with exorbitant prescription medication prices while living with Multiple Sclerosis.
“Medications can only change lives if people can access them,” Ms. Foster said. “Unfortunately, because of the significant increases in the cost of medications to treat multiple sclerosis and other chronic conditions, Minnesotans are struggling to find a way to afford for their medications, especially if they lose access to health insurance. Staying on an MS medication is crucial to my future and the future of my family.”
Claire Henn relies on Remicaid for her rheumatoid arthritis to help stop the progression and reduce inflammation. On a $25,000 yearly income, Ms. Henn was forced to go 2 years without her treatment after a prescription that once cost $60 jumped to $1,400.
“After finding assistance through a charity, I’m finally able to receive the treatment I need to reclaim my quality of life,” said Ms. Henn. “But I’m going to have to make some hard choices when the assistance runs out: which do I prioritize? My home or my quality of life? Nobody should ever have to make a decision like that.”
SF 1098 and its companion in the House (number to be announced) would require drug manufacturers to have the accountability for the prices charged, and for increases in the prices charged for prescription drugs through public disclosure of pricing information. Drug manufacturers are not subject to the same price transparency that hospitals, providers and health plans are.
“Prescription drug prices are so high that the cost of drugs now exceeds the cost of inpatient hospital care. This is unsustainable for patients and all of Minnesota,” Dr. Charlie Fazio, Chief Medical Officer at HealthPartners commented.
“This bill requires pharmaceutical companies to be upfront about what drugs cost and why. Price transparency is one of the best tools we have to lower the cost of health care, including prescription drugs,” said Sen. Julie Rosen. “This bill doesn’t impose price controls or interfere with the free market, but takes a reasonable approach by asking pharmaceutical companies to justify their prices for lifesaving drugs.”
The proposal requires price transparency for three categories of drugs: existing drugs, new drugs and newly acquired drugs. All information for these three categories are to be reviewed by the Department of Health and posted on a public website in an easily accessible and clear format for patients. MDH will be required to post the information at least 30 days in advance of the price increase to allow for public comment during that time period.
“All Minnesotans deserve access to quality, affordable prescription medication,” said Rep. Morrison. “Creating more transparency of drug prices is an important first step toward raising awareness of the role of drug prices in health care, and in helping drive down prices.”
The bills await public hearings in the Senate and House.