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Fate of controversial California drug price bill up in air

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California's Senate Bill 17 aims for "transparency" in drug prices and would allow health insurers to negotiate lower prices for drugs, or in many cases, replace those drugs with cheaper alternatives.

California's Senate Bill 17 aims for "transparency" in drug prices and would allow health insurers to negotiate lower prices for drugs, or in many cases, replace those drugs with cheaper alternatives. However, the bill is opposed by Big Pharma, which has spent millions to defeat it out of fear that SB 17 could become a national model and the first major step toward price controls. The bill requires pharmaceutical companies to notify health insurers and government health plans at least 60 days before scheduled prescription drug price hikes that would exceed 16% over a 2-year period. It would also force drug companies to explain the reasons behind those increases. Additionally, health insurers would have to annually report the 25 most frequently prescribed drugs, the 25 most costly drugs, the 25 drugs with the highest year-over-year increase in total annual spending, and the proportion of premiums spent on prescription drugs. According to Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-CA), the main author of the bill, getting those numbers should help health insurers and the public get a better sense of which drugs are increasing the cost of health care.

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http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20170909/NEWS/170909662

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