The LOS ANGELES TIMES: State senator kills bill that would have required more transparency on drug costs

August 17, 2016

By Sophia Bollag and Melanie Mason

State Sen. Ed Hernández (D-West Covina) is killing his latest effort to shed light on rising pharmaceutical costs after amendments last week weakened the bill, SB 1010.

“I introduced SB 1010 with the intention of shedding light on the reasons precipitating skyrocketing drug prices," Hernández said in a news release. "Unfortunately, recent amendments have made it more difficult for us to accomplish our fundamental goal."

The original bill would have required health plans to report detailed information on drug costs — such as the most prescribed and most costly medicines — to state regulators. It also would have required pharmaceutical companies to notify health insurers and some other drug purchasers before raising prices on medications by more than 10 percent.

But the measure was significantly amended last week in the Assembly Appropriations committee. The changes increased the threshold under which drug companies had to give notice for price hikes, removed the requirement that companies provide justification for those price increases and delayed when the notification mandate would go into effect.

SB 1010 was one of the most lobbied bills of the session, with at least 70 groups spending money to advocate for or against the bill, according to lobbying activity filings. Health insurers, labor groups and consumer advocates were working to support the bill, while pharmaceutical companies opposed it.

Hernández and his allies vowed to continue to press the issue of high drug prices.

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