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Utah lawmakers pass resolution asking Congress to lower drug prices

FILE --Utah State Capitol. 1/27/20 (Photo credit: Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers on Thursday passed a resolution that would urge the U.S. Congress to address the rising costs of prescription drugs.

HCR 7’s chief sponsor, Rep. Suzanne Harrison (D-Draper), presented the resolution to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The resolution highlights the disparity in prices patients pay for brand name prescription drugs in the U.S. and in other countries. It cites a recent study of 79 single-source brand name drugs, concluding that those drugs can be as much as 70% more expensive than those same drugs in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Resolution addresses high prices

According to the resolution, nearly half of Utah adults either do not fill a prescription or skip or reduce doses due to the high cost of having necessary prescriptions filled.  Overall spending on prescription drugs has grown at more than 2.5 times the rate of inflation.

HCR 7 points to the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, which established the Medicare Part D drug benefit. It allowed Medicare prescription drug plans to negotiate with drug manufacturers and pharmacies for the lowest available prices.

However, the act prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from being involved in instituting price structures.  HCR 7 would encourage the U.S. Congress to pass one of many bills currently considered, which would allow the secretary to negotiate with drug manufacturers.

At least one of those bills in consideration would have the potential to reduce Medicare prescription drug spending by nearly $80 billion annually by 2027, according to HCR 7.

The resolution also encourages the U.S. Congress to consider innovative ideas and solutions to help reduce prices and keep them low. It cites one Utah-based, nonprofit drug manufacturer,  Civica Rx, which provides a steady supply of generic drugs to over 1,200 hospitals nationwide at a fraction of the commercial cost.

How resolution would work

HCR 7, with the support of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, encourages U.S. lawmakers to consider price transparency, patent reforms, processes to speed along approval for new drugs and promote overall competition in the marketplace.

A copy of the resolution, if passed by the full House, would be provided to Utah’s congressional delegation, as well as the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, for consideration.

Dozens of Utahns testified before members of that same committee Thursday, pleading for help with the rising cost of life-saving insulin, addressed in HB 207.

KSL NewsRadio recently focused a series of reports on high prescription drug prices. Costly Cure: Struggling with Soaring Prescription Prices is a five-part series.

Further reading:

Don’t go into debt for your drugs: Price cuts available for prescriptions

Diabetics go underground to counteract prescription costs

Utah joins 44 states in lawsuit against big pharma companies

Utah offers to pay public employees to fill their prescriptions in Mexico