The Mercury News: California Assembly passes drug price transparency bill

September 11, 2017
By Tracy Seipel

The California State Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 17, controversial legislation that could soon become the nation’s most comprehensive law aimed at shining a light on prescription drug prices.

The 58-10 vote easily overcame the 41 votes needed to pass, though an earlier vote late Monday afternoon had come up short at 31-6. At that point, the bill was put on call and the voting roll was kept open for less than an hour until the final vote was called.

SB 17, authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina and co-authored by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, aims to make drug prices for both public and private health plans more transparent.

It would enable health insurers to negotiate lower prices for drugs or, in many cases, replace those drugs with cheaper alternatives, according to its supporters.

“Public anger at rising drug prices has been growing for some time, and Californians expect their government to do something about it,” said Hernandez in a statement afterwards.

“Drug companies threw everything they had at this bill, but the Assembly stood up for consumers. The reason Big Pharma hates this bill so much is that it’s going to work.”

The bill is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which deployed legions of lobbyists and paid for full-page newspaper ads leading up to the Legislature’s final votes on the measure, partially out of fear that SB 17 could become a national model and the first major step toward price controls.

To read the rest of the article, click here