States Starting to Tackle High Drug Costs

The battle over drug prices is playing out in states across the country, with at least four states capping consumers’ out-of-pocket costs and others considering transparency requirements to force drug companies to explain their high prices.

The efforts come as the cost of prescription medicines continues to climb, especially among specialty drugs that can run thousands of dollars a month for patients with serious chronic disease. In response, insurers keep shifting more of that burden to consumers in an effort to make them more cost conscious in a spendthrift heath care market.

Insurers blast the new state measures, saying they divert attention from the real problem — the underlying cost of drugs — and will drive up premiums across the board to cover the drug prices — regardless of caps.

“These proposals are designed to give pharmaceutical companies the green light to charge whatever they want for their treatments, and patients will continue to pay the cost” overall, AHIP spokeswoman Clare Krusing said.

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