Vermont passes price control bill

Pharmaceutical Representative

The Vermont State Senate has passed a bill that requires pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily lower the prices of the drugs they sell to the citizens of the state of Vermont.

The Vermont State Senate has passed a bill that requires pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily lower the prices of the drugs they sell to the citizens of the state of Vermont.

According to the bill, "Prescription drug costs represent the fastest growing item in healthcare and are a driving force in rapidly increasing hospital costs and insurance rates. Excessive pricing for prescription drugs threatens Vermont government's ability to assist with the healthcare costs of our citizens, undermines the financial capacity of our communities to meet the educational needs of our children, hurts the ability of our business community to provide health insurance coverage to Vermont's workforce and has a negative effect on Vermont's economy."

According to the language of the bill, which is being considered as a model for bills in other New England states, the state of Vermont will enact "price schedules" if companies to not lower prices to Canadian levels.

"It is the intention of the general assembly to implement a series of nonregulatory programs as intermediate steps designed to achieve the legislative purpose of providing affordable access to medically necessary prescription drugs for all Vermonters," read the bill. "If such nonregulatory programs do not succeed in ensuring that prescription drugs are sold in Vermont at fair and nondescriminatory prices, the general assembly finds that a fair pricing program, one that prohibits excessive and discriminatory pricing in transactions that take place in Vermont, is the most effective and timely alternative to lower drug prices for all Vermonters, and thereby protect the health and well-being of our citizens."

Jeff Trewhitt, spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, however, called the bill "Draconian" and said that not only will it stifle innovation, but that it will not likely achieve its purpose either.

"Price controls bring the price down somewhat, but they don't address the crux of the problem for many senior citizens on strapped incomes," Trewhitt said. "Senior citizens on strapped incomes need comprehensive coverage."

Trewhitt also said that having the states address the problem of a lack of prescription coverage for senior citizens would actually create a system that would end up hurting the people lawmakers are trying to protect.

"The last thing we need is a patchwork quilt of differing and perhaps even conflicting state laws," he said. "This is a national problem that requires a national solution." PR