Vitelli drug pricing transparency bill becomes law

Posted: May 02, 2018 | Senator Vitelli

AUGUSTA — On Monday, a bill sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, that would require more disclosure of prescription drug development costs became law without the governor’s signature.

The new law would provide lawmakers with the information to help address the rising cost of prescription drugs going forward.

“Over the last few years, prescription prices have outpaced wages and inflation —  forcing too many families and seniors in Maine to make choices between food, medicine and shelter,” said Sen. Vitelli. “This bill seeks to add transparency to the pricing process for both consumers and policymakers. It isn’t the last step, nor will it fix everything overnight. However, the bill is a good start that will put us on a path to create price relief for Maine people.”

Many common medications have seen price increases of at least 1000 percent in recent years, including Insulin, EpiPens, and Sovaldi. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1 in 10 American adults don’t take their medication as prescribed because of cost considerations.

The amended version of LD 1406 builds on the existing capacity within the Maine Health Data Organization (MDHO) and develops a plan to gather more specific data from manufacturers. It directs the MDHO  to collect and report on the top 25 prescription drugs that are the most frequently prescribed in the State, the most costly, and have the highest year-over-year increase in total spending.

The MDHO will then be required to develop a plan to collect data from manufacturers in order to better understand how prescription drug prices are established and to submit an annual report to the Legislature. The MDHO will submit their first report including any recommendations for increasing transparency in April of next year.

Vitelli’s bill is based on similar efforts in states around the country. Maryland’s version went into effect last fall, around the same time Governor Brown of California signed their own version into law.

The bill will take effect 90 days following the end of the legislative session.