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Hold drug makers accountable for rising costs | Denver Post

Everyone seems to know someone who’s had to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for expensive prescription drugs, whether it’s to treat a deadly cancer like leukemia or an autoimmune disease like Multiple sclerosis.

Not long ago, American consumers voiced outrage when the drug manufacturer Mylan jacked up the price of its life-saving emergency allergy shot, EpiPen, by 400 percent. That outrage was compounded by a finding in 2017 that Mylan had overcharged Medicaid programs by over a billion dollars, by evading required rebates. Despite widespread public outcry about this and other necessary drugs, we aren’t any closer to knowing why the drugs we rely on cost so much.

Even if you don’t rely on an expensive prescription, every Coloradan foots the bill for outsize drug prices, whether in the form of inflated insurance premiums or tax-based support for programs like Health First Colorado. While drug companies have a right to profit from their research and development and the effort to bring a drug to market, they should also demonstrate accountability.

This legislative session, in response to the pressures that many Coloradans face, consumer groups are leading the effort to require greater transparency in drug pricing, and have been joined by health insurance carriers, health care provider groups, public health officials and other policy advocates. While there is no single solution to out-of-control pricing, giving the public and Colorado leaders access to information is a crucial first step.

As a result of this coalition, Colorado legislators recently introduced House Bill 1260, which will require insurance carriers to provide information on the drugs that cost Coloradans the most, and the drugs that increase the most in price, year over year. The bill would shed light on the reasons behind the biggest price increases, including expenditures on advertising and promotion, research, manufacturing and other factors. Though HB 1260 would require pharmaceutical ­manufacturers to report the basis for these price ­increases to the state and to explain the reason for those ­increases, it doesn’t impose price controls.

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Hold drug makers accountable for rising costs.