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Bill Targets Prescription Drug Price Gouging

Rich Pedroncelli
A pharmacist holds a package of EpiPens epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product, in 2016.

Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo wants state lawmakers to pass a bill to require transparency in prescription drug pricing. He says it would help prevent out-of-control drug price increases, like what happened with the EpiPen injection a couple of years ago. The legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee held a hearing on the bill on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters before the hearing, Comptroller Lembo said it was unconscionable that Mylan, the manufacturer of EpiPen, increased the price of its lifesaving drug 500 percent in 2016. He says that’s why he’s pushing for the bill that would require state oversight of any drug price increase of 25 percent or more. Lembo says the legislation would also require pharmacy benefit managers to disclose the discounts they receive from drug manufacturers.

“And finally and perhaps more importantly, if you are a consumer at the counter trying to afford your medications, this will guarantee that the negotiated price, the post-rebate price, that is available to big purchasers like the State of Connecticut or big insurance companies is available to you at the counter.”

A similar bill pushed by Lembo last year failed to win legislative approval. Drug industry lobbyists have argued that consumers might see a three to four percent increase in their health insurance premiums if the bill becomes law.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.