Letter: An opportunity to cut drug costs

Published: 9/16/2020 12:01:21 AM

In the midst of COVID-19 wreaking economic hardship on Granite Staters, something promising has happened. Republicans and Democrats in Concord came together to help save the state tens of millions of dollars. It’s a remarkable success story at a time we badly need one.

This summer, Gov. Sununu signed HB 1280, which when implemented will reduce prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and creating competition between Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) vying to win contracts with the state.

PBMs are corporate middlemen that negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and resell the drugs at higher prices to employer health plans. PBMs often obscure the real cost of medications through complex pricing schemes, hidden charges, and other gambits. Because it is difficult for employers like our state to understand or monitor complicating pricing formulas for prescriptions, they are vulnerable to PBM price gouging.

Thanks to HB 1280, we have an opportunity to rein in prescription drug costs, creating a competitive online reverse auction in which PBMs underbid one another over multiple rounds to win the award of a PBM contract from the state.

Granite Staters can’t afford delay in implementing this bill given the enormity of the state budget deficit we face. Recent research by the Josiah Bartlett Center estimates savings in the range of $2 million per month. This fiscally responsible law is a win for all.

RICH PEZZILLO

Dedham, Mass.

(The writer is the executive director of the New England Hemophilia Association.)


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