Attacking High Cost Of Prescription Drugs

February 28, 2019

Rep. Sean Scanlon and Sen. Matt Lesser, co-chairs of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, joined State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and advocates to announce new legislation to address the high cost of prescription drugs.

The bill, House Bill 7174, builds on legislation authored and passed by Scanlon and Lembo last year (Public Act 18-41) which created Connecticut’s first prescription drug price transparency law.

Below are my remarks at the press conference.

Here is a good CT News Junkie story you can check out.

“Every single Connecticut resident is feeling the effects of rising prescription drug costs,” said Rep. Scanlon. “The people of this state are fed up and want us to do something to lower their drug costs. By passing this legislation, we can give people the immediate relief at the pharmacy counter that they are demanding and deserve.”

“We are committed to lowering the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs,” said Sen. Lesser. “I’ve heard countless stories about the issues Connecticut residents have encountered due to the high cost of potentially lifesaving prescription drugs. I have also heard from constituents about high deductibles creating a financial roadblock, making it difficult to get necessary, costly procedures covered by their insurance. No one should be priced out of the healthcare market. We are in a position to change that for our state’s residents and we are working towards that goal. We’ve introduced bills which are advancing in the legislative process, and we will continue working hard to make affordable prescription drugs and lower deductibles a reality for Connecticut residents.”

“Connecticut is going to call the shots on health care quality and cost now – and what we want is the best care for the best price,” Comptroller Kevin Lembo said. “Connecticut’s economic future – and the good of its workforce – demands access to affordable quality health care. How can our state possibly achieve economic growth if its workforce struggles to access basic needs like prescription drugs, or its small employers struggle to provide quality affordable basic health care to employees? For the sake of economic growth – and for the basic well-being of Connecticut residents – this must be a priority.”

“Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world, and the number one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical debt. People should not have to choose between the drugs they need and paying basic living expenses,” said AARP Connecticut Director Nora Duncan.

“The bottom line on prescription drugs is that if the medication you need is not affordable, it’s not accessible. AARP supports protecting seniors and all taxpayers from drug company price gouging, helping people get the drugs they need at a price they can afford, closing loopholes that block generics from entering the market, and transparency in drug pricing,” Duncan said.

HB 7174 addresses the high cost of drugs by:

  1. Giving the Comptroller authority to establish a “Connecticut Prescription Drug Program” which allows individuals to enroll in the pharmacy benefit terms negotiated by the state for its state employee pool

  2. Authorizes the Comptroller to make the states pharmacy benefit terms available for qualified private employers

  3. Discourages the anticompetitive practice known as “pay for delay” in which branded drug companies who pay generic drug companies to delay bringing their cheaper alternative to the market by requiring the particular drug to be sold at 50% of list price for the duration of the delay

  4. Protects small pharmacies and consumers by preventing pharmacy benefit managers from imposing retroactive fees to recoup any claim payments already paid to the pharmacy at point of sale

  5. Provides a rebate to consumers at the point-of-sale

  6. Creates a task force to study the feasibility of importing drugs from Canada