Wisconsin Senator's proposal would bring transparency to drug price increases

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) A bipartisan bill proposal would require pharmaceutical corporations to justify drug price increases and report them to the federal government before they increase the price.

The 'FAIR Drug Pricing Act' co-authored by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) would force drug companies to submit a transparency and justification report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 30 days before the drug price would be increased. The report would require justification for each price increase; the manufacturing, research and development costs for the drug; net profits attributed to the drug; as well as marketing and advertising spending for the drug. Any drug that costs at least $100 with a proposed price increase of 10% over one year or 25% over three years would require a justification report.

Once a drug company files a justification report the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would make it publicly available online within 30 days and would provide Congress with an annual report summarizing the information.

According to Baldwin brand name drug prices have increased ten times the rate of inflation over the last five years. Baldwin cites several recent examples of exorbitant drug price increases, including all three corporations that manufacture insulin increasing the price of the drug by 700% in lockstep over the last decade.

"I hear from Wisconsinites, those with type I diabetes that they've seen their Insulin prices go up and up and up and there seems to be no explanation," said Baldwin.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday the Trump administration is finalizing regulations to require drug companies to disclose drug prices in television advertisements. The pricing details are expected to appear in text toward the end of commercials, when potential side effects are being disclosed.

Senator Baldwin says she welcomes the news but says she hopes it doesn't get tied up in litigation.

"If people saw the list price for some of the drugs being advertised on television were as shockingly high as they are, there would be greater oversight, greater awareness and more accountability and transparency," said Baldwin.

Drug companies have said they would rather report prices on their websites.