National News

Legislators propose bill to crack down on large pharmaceutical companies

Posted May 3, 2018 6:19 p.m. EDT

— We all know how expensive prescription drugs can be and lawmakers are now trying to give consumers a break.

A bill expected to be voted on Thursday would require pharmaceutical companies to be more transparent when it comes to increasing their prices.

AARP supports this bill. They say many of their members are struggling to pay for prescription drugs.

Lawmakers say it isn't easy taking on the drug companies, but they say what been going on isn't fair to consumers.

The cost of prescription drugs keeps skyrocketing, in some cases, people can't afford them.

"We heard two different sides of the story. AARP got up there and said the biggest problem is our members are getting hammered by prescription drug costs and the pharmaceutical companies said that's not true," said State Representative Sean Scanlon.

That's what lawmakers say they were told at a roundtable earlier this year that prompted them to propose legislation.

The bill requires drug companies to explain why there is a 20% increase on a drug in 1 year and a 50% increase over 5 years.

It also requires rebates to be publicly reported.

These are commonly given by drug companies to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. Those are third-party groups that negotiate drug prices between insurance companies and pharmacies like CVS.

The state comptroller says its time insurance companies and consumers get more information.

"All these years they've never asked for any specific details but continue to approve rate increases. Let's get it together, we are here because of the people in Connecticut, protecting patients, and making sure they get medication they need," said Kevin Lembo, CT State Comptroller.

A spokesperson for Pharma, which represents the industry says, "we are disappointed that the final version of the bill does not include provisions that would ensure steep rebates given to middlemen are passed on to consumers."

This is one of those bills that has bi-partisan support.

"We want to encourage R&D, the research aspect, that's how we improve health care and provide better products to people. On the other hand, because you have captive audiences that need these drugs, there's the ability to build a lot of profit into these drug prices," said State Representative Vinnie Candelora.

Some would have liked to see more in this bill, such as an independent council to look at drug prices.

The bill is expected to voted on in the House first.