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Over bitter protests from the pharmaceutical industry, California this month enacted a law that requires drug makers to explain and justify prices for some medicines.

Predictably, those who backed the effort are hailing the move as a significant victory, because they hope this will become the first step toward reining in drug prices.


To be sure, this is an admirable goal — medicine should be affordable, and the industry has done a poor job of explaining why prices are so high. Any move that forces drug makers to become more transparent is a good thing.

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  • I’m always perplexed when I hear that drugs should be more affordable to patients. What you’re really saying is they should be more affordable to the insurance companies. Any drug over $50 a month is unaffordable to most Americans, particularly when having 3 to 4 rxs per month. So the list price of all drugs should be no more than $50 per month? If a drug has, say, a $5000 list price, the manfacturer can cut that price by 90% and it is STILL not “affordable”. This is really about the payers and what % of a drug’s cost they will cover. Drugs will never be “affordable”. Just like surgeries and hospital stays are not “affordable”. If this law results in a 50% cut in drug prices (which it won’t), the majority of today’s high priced drugs will still not be affordable, at least not until payers start paying for them in a way that minimizes cost sharing to an affordable price for the patient.

  • Ed:

    Yes it is a lab but I rather have a lab rather than nothing. If we shame any other business, politicians and or writer for legitimate reasons they all will eventually pay attention and think before taking a leap of greed.

    A toothless animal can be frightening to person who has never seen an animal. Cheers.

  • Hello Ed. Just a couple thoughts responding to your thoughtful piece. Yes, states can only do so much. But this bill was important because it moves us toward greater transparency on Rx pricing, and allows CA the chance to push back on large price increases. Both are important. The drug corporations would not have pulled out all the stops to beat it if it was not a threat to them. And, longer game includes encouraging phrma to consider meaningful federal reforms to avoid a patchwork of 50 state regs. All moving us in the right direction. Glass way more than half full.

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