Senate committee approves bill to reduce the cost of prescription drugs

Mike Seals - March 1, 2021 10:05 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Appropriations Committee has given its approval to a measure that would ensure Oklahomans are not paying more for many prescriptions than the price in Canada.  Sen. Greg McCortney, chair of Health and Human Services, is the author of Senate Bill 734, which was approved on Monday.

“I believe we’ll never fix our healthcare system until we reduce the cost of care—the price of prescription medication is a huge part of the problem.  Like citizens throughout the U.S., Oklahomans are paying hundreds, sometimes thousands more for prescriptions than people buying the exact same medications in Canada,” said McCortney, R-Ada.  “This legislation would right that wrong.”

Under SB 734, the bill sets the upper limit on the price of the top 250 drugs covered by Health Choice, an insurance plan covering state and local employees in Oklahoma, based on the price drug companies pay in Canada.  Oklahoma Insurance companies and pharmacies would be able to negotiate down from that pricing level.

According to the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), on the average, U.S. drug prices are 218 percent higher than in Canada.  Health Choice pays approximately $2,442 for the prescription drug Humira, used to treat inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, but the exact same prescription costs just $564 in Quebec.  Under SB 734, the savings for just Humira would be approximately $13.5 million in the first year alone.

“Everyone talks about the skyrocketing cost of insulin.  Looking at the top 25 drugs listed by Health Choice, Trulicity is among them.  It costs an estimated $340 for Health Choice but Trulicity is $66 in Quebec,” McCortney said.  “The total projected savings just for Health Choice for just those top 25 drugs would be more than $52 million in the first year—and keep in mind this bill would cover the top 250 drugs. This bill will save money for individual insurance customers and for taxpayers.”

McCortney said the bill would require insurance companies to pass along all savings to the customers, which would lower the cost of insurance by an estimated $250 or more per person each year.

SB 734 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

For more information, contact Sen. Greg McCortney at 405-521-5541 or email [email protected].

 

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