Legislative Director, MASSPIRG
Legislative Director, MASSPIRG
Boston, MA. Leading consumer and health care groups called on lawmakers to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices and stop the price gouging tactics of some in the pharmaceutical industry.
MASSPIRG, Health Care For All, Health Law Advocates and others urged the legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing to support S.652, An Act to promote transparency and prevent price gouging of pharmaceutical drug prices, filed by Senator Mark Montigny (New Bedford) and a bipartisan group of 28 cosponsors. The bill requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose detailed information on the underlying cost components and pricing of the most expensive drugs including costs of production, R&D, marketing, rebates and discounts, and prices charged to purchasers outside of the U.S., among other information. The bill also authorizes intervention by state health care agencies and the Attorney General’s Office when pricing practices are determined to be gouging or unjustified.
“Skyrocketing prescription drug prices are leading to higher health care costs for Massachusetts residents,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director at MASSPIRG. “In fact, according to an analysis of state data we submitted as testimony to the committee, rising pharmaceutical prices have a disproportionately high impact on Massachusetts health care premiums.”
“This legislation would unlock the mystery of what we are getting for our money when we pay the high price for prescription drugs,” said Brian Rosman, Policy and Government Relations Director of Health Care For All. “We need to shine a light to make the drug industry justify the actual costs that go into their complicated, opaque pricing schemes,” he added.
Prescription drugs can offer transformative, curative and lifesaving treatments. Those treatments should not only improve our health but over time reduce overall health care spending as the need for long-term care for chronic illnesses decreases.
“Recently we have seen a number of consumers denied coverage for various ultra-expensive treatments for Hepatitis C, all because they cost $80,000 to $90,000 to treat a single patient,” said Wells Wilkinson, Staff Attorney for Health Law Advocates.
Like other health care expenses, prescription drug costs must be scrutinized especially in light of very high profiles examples of profiteering and price gouging by some drug manufacturers. The prescription drug industry is one of the most profitable in the country, fueled in part by publicly financed research and development, aggressive marketing tactics, and massive purchasing by state and federal governments for VA, Medicare and Medicaid programs.
S.652, An Act to promote transparency and prevent price gouging of pharmaceutical drug prices will bring much-needed information to the debate over drug prices and curb the most outrageous pricing practices.
Copy of the report – Prescription for Rate Hikes
www.MASSPIRG.org is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
www.hcfama.org is a Massachusetts nonprofit advocacy organization working to create a health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, and culturally competent care to everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.
www.healthlawadvocates.org is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm whose mission is to provide pro bono legal representation to low-income residents experiencing difficulty accessing or paying for needed medical services.