Source: NJ Spotlight
Members of the New Jersey Senate are seeking to control the cost of pharmaceuticals that have been developed with the help of any public funding. They propose to do this by pegging drug prices in New Jersey to those charged in other industrial countries.
The measure, introduced by state senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) takes a page from legislation introduced in the U.S Senate last year by Bernie Sanders. His bill would regulate all drugs, biologic formulations, and healthcare technology that are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and developed, entirely or partially, with research and development that was directly or indirectly supported by federal or state governments.
Prescription drug costs are now growing at 6.3 percent annually — faster than inflation — and account for $1 in every $6 spent on Medicare.
A September Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that as many as three in four voters consider prescription costs to be too high, and 78 percent place much of the blame on the desire of drug companies to make a profit.
New Jersey was spending nearly $2 billion annually to cover the cost of medicines for public workers in state, local and school governments, but has managed to curb these costs significantly through the use of a new pharmacy-benefit management system launched last year. Officials expect the change can save as much as $350 million a year.
Singleton’s bill (S-977) would make it unlawful to sell or advertise the sale of FDA-approved medicines and products developed with public funds at a price above a benchmark that would correlate to the lowest prices of certain industrialized countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, an international coalition of 36 nations in Europe, Asia and South America, most of which have some form of nationalized healthcare.
Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry testified that the measure — which they said essentially created price controls — would put a damper on the state’s economy and curb biotech innovation, changes that could harm consumers more than they help.
Singleton’s measure passed the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It now heads to the Senate Budget Committee for further review; currently there is no Assembly companion to the measure.