Advisory: Senator Hernandez’ Drug Pricing Transparency Bill to Have First Hearing

April 18, 2017

Senate Bill 17 will be taken up on Wednesday afternoon in Senate Health Committee 

SACRAMENTOSenator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) will present his drug pricing transparency legislation on Wednesday, April 19 to the Senate Health Committee. Senate Bill 17 renews his efforts to shine a light on rising drug prices in California.

Following his decision to drop similar legislation last year after amendments weakened the bill, the cost of prescription drugs has continued to skyrocket, driving insurance premiums higher across the nation. Even as attention grows on these egregious price increases, the prescription drug industry has shown no shame or remorse. Deflazacort, newly approved by the FDA to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare and fatal disease that impacts 12,000 boys in the country, is the latest drug distressing families across the country because the yearly estimate of cost for the medication is $89,000.  

SB 17 will promote transparency in the health care system by requiring drug makers to give notice to purchasers before raising prices and requiring health plans to report the proportion of the premiums spent on prescription drugs. It has already amassed a diverse support coalition.

Millions of Californians have health insurance, but affordability remains a critical issue. The favorite tactic of drug companies is to help consumers with their co-payments, but all this does is shield consumers from the true cost of the drug while driving up insurance premiums for everyone. While other sectors of the health care system have transparency requirements and other safeguards in place to manage cost drivers, the pharmaceutical industry has no such mechanisms in place, leading to unsustainable increases in the cost of prescription drugs.

As chair of the Senate Health Committee, Senator Hernandez has championed the need for transparency in drug prices. Last session he authored SB 1010, last year’s transparency measure, and Senate Joint Resolution 29, urging Congress to take action against the company Mylan, which makes the EpiPen. In September, he convened a Senate Health Committee informational hearing to explore how extreme price increases have impacted patients, families, and providers.

WHO: Senator Ed Hernandez, author of SB 17; sponsors of the bill, the California Labor Federation and Health Access California; and other organizations in support.

WHAT: Senate Bill 17 Senate Health Committee hearing

WHEN: Wednesday, April 19 (Senate Health Committee starts at 1:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Capitol Room 4203 http://shea.senate.ca.gov/agenda

See the SB 17 fact sheet and support list.

You can watch the Senate Health Committee hearing livestream on Wednesday here: http://senate.ca.gov/ (Click on either Live Streams in Progress or Today’s Events)

The Senate Health Committee is open to credentialed media – Please send RSVP to Diana.Crofts-Pelayo@sen.ca.gov