California Takes On Drug Pricing: Real Progress or Illusion?

By: Ian Spatz
– Health Affairs Blog

Californians and others around the country following the California legislature’s multiyear debate on prescription drug pricing may have stood up and taken notice on Sept. 13 when the state Senate followed the Assembly in passing SB-17 to facilitate greater transparency in brand-name and generic drug pricing.
While sponsors often make grandiose claims about the potential impact of their legislation, California Senator Ed Hernandez may have set a new standard when he declared that the passage of SB-17 was “a monumental achievement for the entire nation” and “one of the most transformative pieces of health legislation in the country.”
The bill, backed by a broad coalition of consumer advocates, insurers, employers and unions, and strongly opposed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and California life science companies, now goes to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 15 to sign or reject the bill. Whichever way the governor goes, one thing is certain. This legislation is unlikely to have any impact on drug prices in California or anywhere else. In fact, if it has any impact at all, it’s possible it could lead to higher drug prices.

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