Interim committee meets to discuss Oregon’s Prescription Drug Transparency Program

On Monday, the Oregon State Legislature’s House Interim Committee On Health Care held a meeting to provide an update on drug transparency efforts in the state, including a reporting program that tracks transparency and accountability for drug pricing. 

In 2018, Oregon’s Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program was established because of House Bill 4005, the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act. 

 

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Cameron Smith, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), Andrew Stolfi, Administrator and Insurance Commissioner at the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation, and Cassie Soucy, Drug Price Transparency Program Coordinator at DCBS, provided an overview of the program and updates on its implementation.

The mission of the program is to provide accountability for prescription drug pricing through transparency of cost and pricing from pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurers, and to give consumers the opportunity to report on prescription drug price increases. This program is one of the first drug price transparency programs in the nation.

“Still, far too many Oregonians struggle to pay for health care costs for them and their families, both across premiums, out of pocket expenses, and prescription drugs. And we also recognize, as all do you, the challenge of access to health care, which is a statewide issue, but also particularly true in rural Oregon,” said Smith.

According to this report, the program requires health insurance companies to report on prescription drugs in Oregon and provide data on the following information:

  • The 25 Most Prescribed Drugs
  • The 25 Most Costly Prescription Drugs
  • The 25 Drugs with the Greatest Increase in Plan Spending
  • Impact of Prescription Drug Costs on Premium Rates

In August, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation released the first combined list of the most expensive drugs in Oregon since the transparency program went into effect. 

In a press release, Stolfi said, “These lists highlight the goal of the drug price transparency program. They provide a first step to transparency for Oregonians, and help all of us better understand which prescription drugs affect health care costs.”

As of the beginning of the month, almost 300 drug manufacturers have created accounts with the program. Since reporting began in March, the program has received over 700 reports from the manufacturers. Of these, 176 have reported new high cost drugs and 534 reported annual price increases. The program’s website continually updates with these reports.

Consumers are able to report to the program if they experience a price increase at the prescription drug counter. To improve the program’s outreach efforts, DCBS has distributed flyers to over 500 pharmacies in Oregon to give people when they are purchasing their prescription drugs.

The program is required to hold a public hearing to provide updates on drug pricing — their first annual public hearing will be on November 19th. On December 15th, they will provide a report with recommendations for policies and strategies to contain the prices of prescription drugs.