Post State Legislative Session Hearing on Drug Prices

Oct. 8, 2016

With the continued public and political furor over the price increases of the EpiPen Auto-injector and drug pricing generally, the California state Senate Health Committee held an informational hearing in Los Angeles on Sept. 30. to obtain information and perspectives directly from the public, as well as consider and discuss possible solutions from advocates.  Although Mylan NV was invited by the Committee to attend the hearing and speak to its pricing of the EpiPen, the company opted to instead provide a written response to the Committee’s invitation.

The hearing was attended by Committee Chairman Senator Hernandez, and Senators Hall and Mitchell (each representing various cities in Los Angeles County), and Committee staff, among others. The panelists represented patients and families (food allergy advocates and Health Access), health care providers (nurses and doctors), and alternative perspectives, such as Dana Goldman from the University of Southern California, who discussed the intricate nature of drug pricing, among other items.

During the hearing, numerous topics were discussed: the role and effect of manufacturer coupons on price, unbranded disease advocacy campaigns, pricing generics similar to a public utility, ‘gag orders’ borne by pharmacists who are not permitted to discuss lower cash price for a prescription when compared to filling the prescription through health care insurance, the lack of predictability in drug pricing, importation of medicine from Canada, and requiring manufacturers to provide additional discounts where the federal governments is required to buy those products.

The hearing concluded with the Committee Chair stating that he “will continue to drive the train on this,” while providing a personal story of his father, a diabetic, who skips taking his medicine from time to time due to price increases in his medication.

In addition to the Senate Health Committee, the Assembly Health Committee recently scheduled an informational hearing on October 31st.  The title of the hearing is “Understanding the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain:  What is Driving Up the Cost of Drugs?”

We will likely see even more hearings scheduled on the issue of drug pricing as we head into 2017.  Questions? Please contact Brett Johnson, CLSA’s Director, State & Local Government Policy (