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Wisconsin task force offers ideas to lower drug prices

(MGN online)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 11:00 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - A task force formed by Gov. Tony Evers to make prescription drugs more affordable presented its final report and recommendations.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance listed a number of recommendations, but some of them will require legislative or federal action.

  • Limit the copay insurers can charge for insulin
  • Stronger consumer protections and anti-trust enforcement of pharmaceutical companies
  • Push for federal action to end anti-competitive practices that drive up prices of medication, including closing loopholes that allow pharmaceutical companies to abuse extended patent protections
  • Require insurers to apply manufacturer prescription discounts to patients' deductibles and increase public awareness of manufacturer patient assistance programs
  • Establish a state repository for unused or discontinued prescription medicines for providing to uninsured or under-insured Wisconsinites
  • Create a prescription drug purchasing entity to leverage the purchasing power of public sector employers to drive down prescription drug prices
  • Allow pharmacies to import FDA-approved prescription medicines from Canada
  • Give physicians better access to patients' insurance plan information to consider the patient’s out-of-pocket cost
  • Ensure critical safety net providers and community health centers can continue using discounted drug programs
  • Increase transparency in the pharmaceutical supply chain to identify areas of waste or excessive profits that harms consumers

Read the complete report, including pros and cons of its recommendations, at https://oci.wi.gov/Documents/AboutOCI/RxTaskForceFinalReport.pdf.

“The recommendations included in this report provide a path forward to help ease the burden on families and individuals who struggle to afford their medications,” said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek, who chaired the task force.

The governor thanked the task force members for their work. “Too many Wisconsinites continue to struggle to afford their medications,” he said. “That’s unacceptable. Health care -- medications or otherwise -- should not be a privilege afforded only to the healthy and wealthy.”

Evers created the task force in August 2019 to find ways to bring down the price of prescription medicine and make it more accessible, looking at actions Wisconsin has already taken and what other states and the federal government are doing. Task force members heard testimony from consumers and businesses about the harm high drug prices are causing and they looked at the prescription drug supply chain, including drug manufacturers, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacists.

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