Prescription drug costs

Connecticut Officials Tackle Drug Pricing

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The cost of prescription drugs is increasing, and Gov. Ned Lamont and some lawmakers are renewing their push to lower the cost by telling companies how much they can charge.

“A survey in 2018 found that 20 percent of people of Connecticut residents were either cutting pills or skipping prescriptions because they couldn’t afford it,” Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project said. 

Andrews said that ends up costing all of us because these people end up in the hospital.

“I think it’s a very generous profit they’ll be able to make that should not affect their innovation budgets. That should not affect their ability to come up with new drugs,” she said.

Lamont is proposing a bill that would only allow companies to earn two percent plus the cost of inflation.

“When it comes to pharmaceuticals, some of them are like 25 percent of our overall healthcare costs, in many cases going up a lot faster than inflation,” Lamont said. 

“Healthcare plans, hospitals, government, pharmacy and others collectively earned more on branded medicine, than the companies that discovered, developed and manufactured them,” John Burkhardt, senior vice president of research at Pfizer said.

Burkhardt of Pfizer testified against the bill today.

“Government price setting diminishes the incentive for biopharmaceutical manufacturers to invest in research and development,” Burkhardt said.

The governor also wants to apply for a federal waiver to import drugs from Canada.

“We pay over twice as much for drugs than the Canadians do,” Andrews said.

Andrews also said the industry often raises safety as a concern.

“We import $21 billion in food from Canada every year and we’ve never raised a concern about the safety of lettuce coming in,” she continued.

“It’s the exact same pharmaceuticals you’re seeing right here at Beacon, they just happen to be half the price when they come from Canada. It’s going to be under the same strict FDA protocols,” Lamont said. 

The Insurance and Real Estate Committee has until the end of March to send the bill to the Senate.

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