Members of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) gathered in Pittsburgh on Tuesday to discuss ways to throttle prescription drug costs in Pennsylvania. The academy noted that states spend more than $20 billion a year on prescription drug coverage for public employees, Medicaid beneficiaries, higher education, and those in prison. In Pennsylvania, the total cost for prescription drug benefits for 73,606 state employees for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was nearly $182 million, plus more than $11 million for 4,365 state troopers with separate health benefit coverage. The state Department of Corrections spent about $54 million on prescription drugs in 2015. Earlier this year, NASHP established a work group including pharmacists, state health policy officers, and others in an effort to address what has become the fastest growing health care cost. One suggestion was public utility-style of the pharmaceutical industry, with a review board to approve prices and any increases. Ameet Sarpatwari, a consultant with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and NASHP staff member, explained that the justification would be that drugs are an essential good, necessary "to promote the health and welfare of citizens." Other suggestions included greater transparency on drug pricing, using consumer protection laws when high prices force people to skip treatment, and having states buy drugs from Canada or other countries that can offer low prices and also meet drug quality standards.