Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he would support a series of bills passed by Democrat lawmakers that will limit their own spending on insulin, asthma inhalers and EpiPens for 2 million residents covered by state-regulated health plans.
As part of the attempt to curb the rise in drug package prices, it also requires pharmacy managers to disclose the details of the contracts they enter into between insurance companies and pharmacies.
“We continue to make great strides in developing drugs that can save lives and cure disease, but they are useless when they are unavailable,” said Sen. Joseph Vital, State Senator, Middlesex, chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
Murphy announced his support at a press conference at the Willingbar Senior Citizens Center.
Proposals by the state legislature come as The Build Back Better bill, which includes a provision that allows the federal government to negotiate prices for certain drugs with manufacturers, has stopped in Congress.
A recent AARP study found that Americans pay three times more than people in other countries pay for the same drug. And patients taking even long-standing medications have seen their bills skyrocket; The average cost of insulin increased by 40% from 2014 to 2018, according to USA TODAY.
Rising prices for prescription drugs have forced New Jersey politicians, in particular, to go on a thin line. State consumer organizations are calling for help from their members, while the state’s pharmaceutical industry is an economic force.
Murphy outlined four bills he backed.
Among them is a bill that ensures that anyone who covers a state-regulated health plan or state health care plans or health plans for a school worker can prescribe insulin for $ 35 or less than a 30-day supply, EpiPens for $ 25 . or less, and asthma inhalers for $ 50 or less.
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This will not apply to consumers who are covered by federal health plans that include many employer plans.
The package will also expand the rules for pharmacy managers such as CVS Caremark and Express Scripts, who agree on medication plans for insurance companies.
According to research groups, benefit managers have received more close attention.
The Commonwealth Foundation said so-called PBMs could receive discounts from manufacturers, which helps slow the cost of drugs. But they can get bigger discounts on more expensive drugs, and it’s unclear what portion of those discounts is passed on to insurers.
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One of the proposed bills in New Jersey will require more transparency for pharmacy manufacturers.
“We focus on the availability and transparency of prices across the supply chain of prescription drugs,” Murphy said.
Both New Jersey consumer groups and drug manufacturers said they were studying the offerings.
“In order to achieve real and lasting relief for all consumers, New Jersey must also address the root cause of the problem – the high prices set by drug manufacturers,” said Evelyn Liebman, director of advocacy for the AARP director of New Jersey. “Big Pharma is making billions, and older people and taxpayers are being ripped off.”
State drug manufacturers disagreed. Dean J. Paranicas, president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute of Health, a trade group representing drug manufacturers, said research has shown that more than 50% of the brand’s drug value comes from intermediaries in the supply chain.
It is important that lawmakers’ proposals “include examining supply chains while finding ways to reduce costs for patients,” Paranikas said.
Michael L. Diamond is a business reporter who has been writing about the New Jersey economy and the healthcare industry for over 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.