Vt. first state to require drug price transparency

montpelierBy Erin Mansfield

For Vermont Digger

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the prescription drug transparency bill that will make Vermont the first state to require pharmaceutical companies to justify why their drug prices go up.

“This bill is about accountability,” Shumlin said. “The reality is that we have pharmaceutical companies raising prices on lifesaving drugs 5,000 percent. When asked about those outrageous increases, CEOs are literally laughing in front of Congress. That needs to change.”

The news release referenced Martin Shkreli, the embattled pharmaceutical executive who served as chief executive officer of Turning Pharmaceuticals when the price of a drug that treats malaria rose from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.

Vermont’s new law, which started as S.216, will require pharmaceutical manufacturers to justify why the “total wholesale cost” of specific prescription drugs go up in a given year. The data on the cost of the drug would come from the state’s Medicaid program.

The Green Mountain Care Board would work with the Department of Vermont Health Access to develop an annual list of the 15 drugs whose prices are either very high or went up significantly for the state’s Medicaid program.

Manufacturers would need to disclose “all the factors that have contributed to a price increase” and justify the increases to the Attorney General’s Office, which could take the companies to civil court if they decline to provide the information.

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