Drug Transparency Law Doesn’t Really Clear Things Up

A Vermont law that seeks to shed light about why the price of medications rise seems to have misplaced its flashlight. Manufacturers have to explain in detail why the price rose, but those details can’t be seen by the public thanks to a confidentiality clause that keeps the responses hidden, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s the first state law of its kind in the country. Vermont lawmakers put the confidentiality clause in there to encourage drug companies’ participation and to discourage possible lawsuits. For the most part, the 11-page report only summarizes the reasons given for the increase; reasons such as money needed for research and development.

The state has skin in this game that goes beyond consumer outrage. Programs like Medicaid are directly affected. The law mandates identifying 15 drugs each year with price increases of at least 15% in the prior year, or 50% over the past five years.  

Ten drugs were identified in the report. They included (surprise!) Mylan NV’s EpiPen (up 205% over five years), and AbbVie’s Humira (up 114%).

But the law doesn’t give the state the ability to decrease prices; it can only levy a $10,000 fine to companies that don’t provide drug price information. Drug companies make millions—even billions—a year.

Source: Wall Street Journal