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As prescription drug costs continue to squeeze state budgets, a group of state health policy makers is offering some novel — and also some familiar — suggestions for coping. These include regulating the pharmaceutical industry as a utility, allowing states to operate as pharmacy benefit managers and waiving some provisions of the Medicaid program.

In a paper released on Tuesday, the National Academy for State Health Policy also recommends that states pursue laws that require more transparency from drug makers. And the organization floated some timeworn proposals, such as importing medicines from Canada and prosecuting drug makers for violating consumer protection laws that protect against predatory pricing monopolies.


“States, as large drug purchasers, generally negotiate discounts against those high launch prices and against annual price increases, but they are powerless to change the trajectory of the industry pricing model,” according to a paper written by a working group of state legislative staffers, Medicaid programs, state-based insurance exchanges, corrections departments, and attorneys general staffs.

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