Bill draft would make drug companies defend price increases

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The next legislative session is more than a year away, but North Dakota lawmakers are working on a bill giving them information on what prescription drugs cost. Texas and Colorado passed laws trying to do the same. The hope is that more information will lead to lower prices.

The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy and the insurance department would work together collecting and publishing data about the wholesale price of different prescriptions and make manufacturers justify price increases.

The bill would make companies justify those increases if it's more than 10 percent in a year or 40 percent over five years. Lawmakers cited insulin and Epipens as recent examples of high markups. Drug makers aren't the only ones being looked at. The law would also get information from pharmacy benefit managers and health insurance companies.

“This legislation requires the manufacturers and the PBMs to come back to us and explain why that kind of increase is necessary. If they can justify it, I'm good. But I don't think they can and I'm waiting for them to do it,” said Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck.

Keiser is confident the committee will push out a bill, but there will be changes to it after the discussion today.

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