Assembly Members Introduce Bills To Help Reduce Prescription Drug Costs in State
A group of Assembly members on Thursday introduced a package of seven bills intended to help reduce prescription drug prices, the Sacramento Bee reports. The bills include:
AB 262, sponsored by Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), would establish a "do not sell" list that would prohibit pharmacies from disclosing prescribing information to third-party vendors for doctors who ask to be included on the list (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 2/13);
AB 1957, sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles), would require the Board of Pharmacy to establish a Web site comparing prices for prescription drugs at U.S. and Canadian pharmacies. The Web site also would provide links to Canadian pharmacies certified as "legitimate and safe" by the board, according to the Los Angeles Times (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 2/13);
AB 1958, sponsored by Frommer, would allow some state agencies to join CalPERS to purchase prescription drugs in bulk;
AB 1959, sponsored by Assembly member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), would require CalPERS and other state health programs to share with the chairs of the Assembly and Senate budget committees the details of their contracts with drug companies -- which currently are confidential (Sacramento Bee, 2/13). According to the Times, the committee chairs would have access to the information only "under an oath of secrecy" (Los Angeles Times, 2/13); and
- AB 1960, sponsored by Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), would require pharmacy benefit managers that work with state health programs to provide legislators with information on the discounts and rebates that they receive from drug companies for bulk purchases. Such information currently is confidential (Sacramento Bee, 2/13).
Lawmakers also introduced legislation that would recommend that the HHS secretary certify the safety of lower-cost, U.S-made prescription drugs reimported from Canada and that Congress repeal a provision of the new Medicare law (HR 1) that prohibits the federal government from negotiating lower prices with pharmaceutical firms. The "most controversial" of the bills likely will be AB 1957, which intends to ease the process of purchasing prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, the Times reports. Although such a practice is generally prohibited, the bill would not violate federal law, Frommer said, adding, "We have the power under current state law to certify mail-order pharmacies through our Board of Pharmacy" (Los Angeles Times, 2/13). FDA on Tuesday is scheduled to launch a statewide consumer information campaign "to discourage the growing movement" by state and local governments to purchase prescription drugs from Canada, the Sacramento Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 2/12). KQED's "California Report" on Friday reported on lawmakers' efforts to reduce prescription drug costs (Myers, "California Report," KQED, 2/13). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.