OLYMPIA — Washington state lawmakers can take a stand today on one of the most important issues facing residents — rising prescription drug prices. This morning, a Washington House committee will hold a hearing on SB 5292, a drug price transparency measure. Currently, drug companies raise the prices of prescription drugs with no advance notice or explanation, making it impossible for the state of Washington and its residents to prepare for price increases. The bill would shed much-needed light into the pricing tactics of drug companies. By requiring Big Pharma to report and provide explanations for increases in drug prices, this bill is an important step toward ensuring that all patients can afford the medications they need.
Testifying at the House committee meeting today is retired forester Mike Gaffney from Olympia. Mike lives with a rare form of the blood cancer called multiple myeloma. The price for his cancer medication, Revlimid, skyrocketed 20 percent in 2017 alone. The drug now costs $250,000 a year.
“On behalf of more than 6,200 patients in Washington engaged in efforts to lower prescription drug prices, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a bipartisan national patient organization, strongly endorses Washington’s transparency efforts,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now.
The measure, SB 5292, would:
Require that health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers provide a list to the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) of the most frequently prescribed drugs, costliest drugs, and drugs with the highest year-over-year increases.
Require drug corporations to compile a list of drugs that meet a certain threshold in price increases and will have a significant impact on state expenditures.
Require drug manufacturers to list justification of those increases to the HCA.
Mandate that the HCA analyze the data and provide annual reports to the state Legislature.
If passed, the legislation would ensure drug corporations won’t be able to blind side Washington patients or taxpayers with arbitrary price hikes. This bill is long overdue and a step in the right direction.