DENVER — Drug manufacturers and wholesalers would have to reveal what they charge pharmacies and health care providers for the medications they sell under a bill that won approval in the Colorado Senate on Friday.
The measure, which cleared the Colorado House earlier this month, is designed to show the markup costs for medications, which the bill's sponsors call astounding.
"We know that the price of prescription drugs are increasing," said Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who introduced House Bill 1131 with Rep. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder. "There is a long chain of what happens from when a pharmaceutical company manufactures it, then sells it and then it gets prescribed. That entire chain, we need to have transparency."
Sen. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, was one of a handful of Republicans who supported the measure, saying transparency is a good way to go in helping to reduce costs in health care.
Despite its bipartisan support — the bill cleared the Senate 22-13 — not every senator liked it.
"This is a bill that really lacks context," said Sen. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins. "It doesn't even describe how it even would be enforced, or have any penalties for noncompliance by the pharmaceutical company or the drug representatives."
As a result, there won't be much transparency, and without that, the measure is useless because it may well result in increased drug costs, not lower ones, Ginal said.
Winter, however, said the medical profession is in favor of this bill. "The doctors are in favor of this, the nurses are in favor of this," she said.
The measure is part of a push to find ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs, something Gov. Jared Polis called for in his state-of-the-state speech to the Legislature in January.
Another major push is with SB5, a bill introduced by Ginal, Lewis and Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver.
That measure calls for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to design a program to import prescription drugs from Canada for sale to Colorado consumers. The measure, which cleared the Senate last week on a 20-14 vote, is set to be heard in the House Health & Insurance Committee on April 10.