Public hearing held on DeLuca's pharmaceutical transparency bill

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – The House Insurance Committee held a public hearing this morning on H.B. 161, introduced by state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee. The bill would require increased pricing transparency from pharmaceutical companies in regard to the pricing of prescription medications.

Testifiers included:

  • Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance commissioner;

  • Tara Ryan, vice president, state policy, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America;

  • Samuel Marshall, president and CEO, Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania Inc.;

  • Bob Baker, vice president, government affairs, Capital Blue Cross;

  • Vince Phillips, Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters;

  • Michael Yantis, vice president, state government affairs, Highmark Inc.;

  • Kim Kockler, vice president government affairs, Independence Blue Cross;

  • Ray Landis, advocacy manager, AARP Pennsylvania; and

  • Pat Epple, CEO, Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.

During his opening remarks, DeLuca stated that the pharmaceutical industry "has a direct and significant impact on the public and it continues to operate with little to no transparency." DeLuca further pointed to recent massive price increases for established drugs and reminded those at the hearing that prescription drugs are the leading driver of increases in the health care system

Insurance Commissioner Miller highlighted the fact that, from 2014 to 2015, in the individual insurance market, pharmaceutical drug costs rose from 13.6 percent of enrollee claims to 21.4 percent of claims, an increase of over 50 percent.

Marshall highlighted the new approach the bill would bring to prescription pricing. "You can let the market forces do their thing by giving the market meaningful information about the underlying costs of the product. EpiPen is a good example. The attention in the market – the public's awareness of EpiPen's costs and profits – has forced the drug company to lower its cost."

DeLuca's bill, currently under consideration by the House Insurance Committee, is a reintroduction from the previous legislative session and currently has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors.

"I am looking forward to an open debate on this bill in the committee," DeLuca said, "And I hope to see it advance to the full House in the near future."