Los Angeles City Council Member To Propose Bulk Purchasing Plan for Prescription Drugs for City Residents
Los Angeles City Council member Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday said that he would propose a plan to establish a purchasing pool to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs for city residents, many of whom are uninsured, the Los Angeles Times reports. Villaraigosa, who is developing the plan with the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said, "We want to look at how we can generate savings for the city and for the residents of our city and hopefully begin a conversation among public opinion leaders about what we can do to address escalating health care costs." Although Villaraigosa has not yet proposed a specific plan or outlined the cost, FTCR President Jerry Flanagan said that the group is drafting a measure that could be introduced as early as next week. The proposal would establish a not-for-profit consortium that small businesses, employees and residents would pay a fee to join. The consortium would negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies by using volume purchasing. Flanagan said that Los Angeles would be the first city to implement a bulk purchasing plan for prescription drugs for residents.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Dr. Thomas Garthwaite said that if the system is established properly, "a lot of money can be saved." California Small Business Association President Betty Jo Toccoli said that she "hoped the plan could help small businesses expand health coverage for employees," provided that it did not hurt independent pharmacies, the Times reports. According to the Times, Jim Lott, vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, said that a bulk purchasing program could "be a boon to hospitals, many of which are struggling to handle uninsured patients who clog emergency rooms with ailments that could have been treated with prescription drugs." Wanda Moebius, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, in a statement said that PhRMA had "serious concerns about how lists of drugs to be purchased will be created," adding, "When lists are developed as to what drugs should be purchased, some vital choices could be left off, to the detriment of patient health" (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 3/18).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.