EDITORIAL: Make prescription drug prices more transparent

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One might not immediately understand how a transparency issue relates to the final formulation of the state budget.

But when one considers that New York taxpayers pay $9 billion a year in prescription drug prices, on top of what individual New Yorkers pay themselves, then including transparency in drug prices as part of state budget negotiations suddenly makes a lot of sense.

By making drug prices and price increases more transparent, lawmakers would be helping control and drive down the cost of prescriptions that’s crippling many New York families.

States with similar transparency laws have experienced significant drops in the number of price hikes they experienced, demonstrating that exposure works as a tool in forcing drug manufacturers to keep their prices down.

Earlier this week, 42 organizations around the state — 42! — signed a letter to legislative leaders urging changes to the way drug manufacturers report and justify prices and price hikes.

The organizations included representatives from labor, the medical profession, the aging (AARP), communities of color and many others.

Several reforms are under consideration as lawmakers spend the next week wrapping up the budget before the April 1 deadline. The proposals are reasonable and achievable.

One proposal includes requiring prescription drug manufacturers to report price increases in advance, to provide the reasons for the increase and to give consumers advance notice of proposed prescription drug price hikes. Under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan announced earlier this year, the state would gain expanded authority to investigate proposed increases.

Another proposal, also pitched by Hochul, would require drug manufacturers to disclose when they pay the makers of generic drugs to delay the release of their cheaper versions to market. This practice, known as “pay for delay,” helps drive up profits for brand-name drug makers at the expense of New Yorkers, who are then deprived of access to lower-priced drugs.

If approved, New York’s transparency reforms would be among the most comprehensive in the nation and would place the state among 19 other states that have passed similar protections.

But price savings won’t be the only benefit of these transparency reforms.

They also will save lives.

Because of high drug prices, some people —particularly older residents on fixed incomes — either go without the prescription drugs they need, or they self-ration their drugs, depriving themselves of the necessary dosage and thereby jeopardizing their health.

Drug transparency reform is a necessary step in protecting New Yorkers from exorbitant drug prices.

Lawmakers should make it a priority as they conclude their budget negotiations.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Opinion

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