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Colorado 'committed' to lowering prescription drug costs for residents

Lawmakers hope to look at policies enacted by other states to reduce medications costs here in Colorado.

DENVER — A report released Thursday by Colorado's Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing will help guide state lawmakers as they work to reduce prescription drug costs for residents. 

It notes that the three biggest cost drivers for the medications are:

  • Lack of transparency and lack of pricing practices that benefit Colorado
  • Anti-competitive practices
  • Marketing and lobbying investment

The department gathered input from a variety of stakeholders to come away with ways to combat those cost drivers and save consumers money.

"We are committed to making sure that we bring down the cost of prescription drugs for the people in the state of Colorado," said State Rep. Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora). 

RELATED: President Trump signals for Colorado plan to import lower-cost drugs

"This is a real problem, people are having to choose between paying their mortgage or their rent and taking care of their health," Jackson said.

In 2019, according to the report — "Reducing Prescription Drug Costs in Colorado" — 51 bills were signed into law in states across the country aimed at reduced drug costs. The report looks at some of the "attainable policies" that other states have successfully adopted.

The report also listed out "quick wins" that could have an immediate impact and can be done at the state level.

  • Prescription drug price transparency, such as disclosures related to price increases, payments to middlemen like insurance carriers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and price composition transparency (i.e., R&D, distribution, profits, promotional marketing, etc.)
  • Aligning state importation policy with potential expansion of federal regulations and/or waivers for drug importation
  • Investing in physician tools, like the prescriber tool, that fuel more cost-effective prescribing practices;
  • Requiring rebates to be passed through to employers and patients
  • Empowering and educating employers to negotiate contracts that maximize the prescription drug pricing discounts

Other more complicated solutions outlined require assistance from the federal government. They include some of the following:

  • Expanding drug importation beyond Canada with strong safety standards
  • Indexing U.S. prices to international prices
  • Expediting FDA reviews and approvals for generic drugs entering the market
  • Limiting direct-to-consumer advertising

RELATED: Judge strikes down rule requiring drug ads to reveal prices

"We are going to the information in this particular report and look[ing] at some of the recommendations, and together we are going to come up with some substantive policy that can actually impact people's lives," Jackson said.

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