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House Bill 2073 submitted to inject more transparency into prescription drug pricing

The Puerto Rico House of Representatives will be reviewing a bill to amend Act 7, known as the Prescription Drugs Pricing Transparency Act, to identify the factors that influence what patients pay for their medication.

House Rep. Juan Oscar Morales, chairman of the House Health Commission, said during an interview on the “En Una Hora” radio show on the 11Q AM station that the bill seeks to establish the duties of manufacturers and/or distributors to provide information related to the hike in costs of prescription drugs. The bill also seeks to force those groups to keep medications at “reasonable costs.”

An inter-agency committee will be established to study, publish and evaluate prescription drug prices, according to the measure introduced to the Legislature on Monday.

“I believe this is a bill that will help us greatly regarding regulating prescription drug pricing because medications experience brutal increases in prices overnight and we don’t know the justification,” Morales said. “The bill states that a justification must be provided on why a certain medication goes up so much in price.”

The bill is part of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration “Plan for Puerto Rico” platform which bases the health on social justice and economic efficiency. That calls upon all industry players to “do their part,” according to the public policy.

Furthermore, the measure cites a study by the American Association of Retired Persons involving 1,834 adults 50 or older that revealed that 86% of adults 65 and older take prescription drugs regularly.

It also revealed that more than half of those surveyed had not bought a prescribed medication in the last two years, mentioning the cost as a leading factor in their decision. The AARP study also revealed that people ages 50 to 64 faced greater difficulties to pay for their prescription meds.

Since 2015, at 13 U.S. jurisdictions have tried to establish greater transparency in the rising costs of medications. In June 2016, Vermont became the first state to approve this type of legislation, according to a study prepared by the National Conference of State Legislatures,” which the local bill cited.

The majority of the proposed bills required prescription drug manufacturers to inform the product’s “Wholesale Acquisition Cost” or the “Average Wholesale Price,” although critics have said those values do not represent the real cost of medications.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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