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Ore. Bill Would Hold Drug Companies Accountable for Price Jumps

A bill in the Oregon House would require prescription drug companies to report data on their drug costs in other countries. (TBIT/Pixabay)
A bill in the Oregon House would require prescription drug companies to report data on their drug costs in other countries. (TBIT/Pixabay)
February 12, 2018

SALEM, Ore. — A bill in the Oregon Legislature aims to make prescription drug prices transparent and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for large jumps in cost.

House Bill 4005 would require drug manufacturers to explain cost increases above 10 percent for drugs that cost more than $100 a month. The bill wouldn't impose any price controls. It's received bipartisan support but lots of push-back from pharmaceutical companies.

Nancy Plemons is a retired emergency room nurse on a fixed income who takes as many as 23 different medications for her health conditions, including a chronic heart condition, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. She said stable drug prices help keep her alive.

"The drug companies hold such power over us that, eventually, if they're not held accountable, they are going to price me and many others out of our lives,” Plemsons said.

HB 4005 cleared the House Health Committee on Friday. Drug companies say the transparency requirements are too hard to meet.

The bill also requires drug manufacturers to report data on prices charged in other countries. Plemons said she's researched prices in Canada and overall pays about 12 times more for her medications in the United States, even though they are manufactured here.

She said U.S. consumers end up paying the largest share of research and advertising costs, as well as drug-company CEO salaries. She said transparency would put these companies on notice.

"That simple step of just trying to make them more transparent is going to send a shockwave through the pharmaceutical industry,” Plemons said; “because they are not going to want to let anyone know how much it costs them to put that drug on the market."

Plemons said she believes other states will follow if Oregon lawmakers pass this bill. Last year, California passed similar legislation, but the law has been held up by a lawsuit.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR