NASHP proposals aim to control drug prices

Money Pills
Pills and money.

Concerned about ever-rising drug costs, the National Association for State Health Policy (NASHP) has released a list of proposals to address the situation.

Among NASHP's wide-ranging proposals (.pdf):

  • Increase price transparency to create public visibility and accountability

  • Create a public utility model to regulate drug prices on a state-by-state basis, as well as explore importation of some drugs from Canada

  • Allow the bulk purchasing and distribution of high-priced drugs that are deemed to protect public health

  • Wider utilization of state unfair trade and consumer protection laws to address high prices

  • Pursue Medicaid waivers and legislative changes to promote greater purchasing flexibility

  • Use shareholder activism through state pension funds to influence pharmaceutical company

“This is another example where states can be the innovators,” said NASHP Executive Director Trish Riley in a statement. “ Much like with CHIP, HIPAA, and the Affordable Care Act, big national health reforms have often followed the states’ leads and now they are committed to leading the way on reining in drug prices.”

Drug pricing practices in recent years has roiled both consumers and the providers. Mylan Pharmaceuticals has come under Congressional scrutiny for a 400 percent price increase for its EpiPen injectors for individuals with severe allergies. Valeant Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price of the drug used in physician-assisted suicides 15-fold since 2009 as more states have moved to legalize the practice.

Such business practices have hit hospital bottom lines hard. A recent report by the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals concluded that U.S. hospitals have experienced a 38.7 percent increase in inpatient drug spending on a per admission basis between 2013 and last year and a 23.4 percent increase overall.

NASHP said it will convene a meeting with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the work group that developed the proposals in November.