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Connecticut Officials Request Drug Anti-Price Gouging Law

Feb. 22, 2018 3:34PM

  • Connecticut joins other states considering drug price controls
  • PhRMA has opposed and litigated against state efforts
Bloomberg Law News Mar 23, 2019
Feb 22, 2018
  •  Connecticut joins other states considering drug price controls
  •  PhRMA has opposed and litigated against state efforts

Steep hikes in drug prices in Connecticut would be considered price gouging under a wide-ranging drug-price control plan by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D).

Cost controls are necessary because drug prices are too high and the federal government isn’t addressing the problem, Wyman said in releasing drug-price control recommendations Feb. 21. Her plan, in the works for a year, mirrors those of other states, including California, whose drug-price control law is under litigation.

If approved by the Legislature, Connecticut’s plan would increase drug-price transparency and offer short- and long-term ways to control prescription drug prices, Wyman said.

High Prices = Price Gouging

Under Wyman’s plan, lawmakers would create a drug-price review board, made up of clinicians, health economists, and consumers, who would identify drug prices that appear unwarranted, based on market norms.

Wyman also recommends that the Legislature pass a bill to add drug prices to the state’s anti-price gouging statutes. The drug-price review board would then refer any very high-priced drugs to the attorney general for possible action as price gouging.

Transparency

Pharmacy benefit managers, like Express Scripts and OptumRX, would have to make public the details of their contracts with insurers. Insurers would have to disclose the influence of drug prices on premiums, in their rate filings to the state Department of Insurance.

PBMs would have to provide to the review board a copy of their contracts with insurers and drug manufacturers.

Drug manufacturers, PBMs, and insurers would have to disclose to the Office of State Ethics and post to a public website any funding they provide to patient advocacy groups.

Also, patient copays and deductibles for drugs would have to be based on an estimate of the negotiated price of a drug, after any rebates.

Lawmaker Support

There may be enough support in the Legislature to pass the bills Wyman wants. Last year, lawmakers passed a bill to allow pharmacists to alert patients when a drug would cost them less if they paid in cash than if they purchased it through their PBM. Both chambers in Connecticut’s Legislature are about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.

Sen. Len Fasano (R), Senate president pro tempore and author of last year’s consumer drug-price bill, was generally supportive of Wyman’s recommendations, he has told Bloomberg Law. Fasano didn’t reply Feb. 22 to Bloomberg Law.

But the plan is staunchly opposed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Caitlin Carroll, PhRMA spokeswoman, told Bloomberg Law Feb. 21 in an email. PhRMA’s members include some of the world’s largest drug manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Sanofi.

PhRMA is especially concerned about creating a drug-price review board, which “could negatively affect patient access without addressing the top challenges people face at the pharmacy counter, like disproportionate out-of-pocket costs.” Carroll said. PhRMA “looks forward to working with both the cabinet and lawmakers to find a solution that works for patients,” Carroll said.

States Acting, PhRMA Reacting

Maryland and New York recently added drug-price restrictions to their Medicaid programs.

California, Nevada, and Vermont approved new, drug-price transparency requirements. PhRMA is litigating against the California and Nevada laws.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adrianne Appel in Boston at aappel@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brian Broderick at bbroderick@bloomberglaw.com

Adrianne Appel

Staff Correspondent