Life Science Compliance Update

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September 11, 2017

Louisiana Price Transparency Measures Go into Effect…With An Interesting Twist

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According to LexisNexis State Net, during 2017, about half of the states and Congress collectively introduced almost 90 measures intended to address soaring prescription drug prices. Most would either cap drug prices or force drug makers to be more transparent with how they devise pricing for at least some medications.

A handful of states, including Maryland (HB 631), Louisiana (SB 59) and Nevada (HB 539), have adopted such measures this year, and New York adopted a law in April as part of the budget that imposes greater scrutiny on drug makers over their pricing.

There is also word that the Trump administration is planning action. Although the Food and Drug Administration has no direct control over drug prices, in a June blog post FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency plans to encourage the development of additional lower-cost generic drugs. The effort would likely have a limited impact, however, as the growth in drug prices is largely driven by newer drugs under patent and without generic competition.

In mid-June 2017, Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana signed two drug price transparency measures. HB 436 – unanimously passed by the legislature – requires manufacturers engaging in the marketing of prescription drugs in the state to make quarterly reports of the wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) prices to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy.

SB 59 – also passed unanimously – requires the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to post on a website those WAC prices, organized by therapeutic category. Health profession licensing boards that regulate Louisiana prescribers are required to annually remind/advise them as to the availability of the website. Interestingly, however, is the mandate that the Board obtains private grant funding to implement and operate the website.

HB 436 requires that, “Each drug manufacturer or pharmaceutical marketer who engages in any form of prescription drug marketing to a prescriber, his designee, or any member of his staff in Louisiana shall provide to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy no later than January first, April first, July first, and October first of each calendar year the current wholesale acquisition cost information for the United States Food and Drug Administration approved drugs marketed in the state by that manufacturer.”

The Senate bill requires “the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy … develop a website to contain prescription drug price information to be made available to Louisiana prescribers on the board's website with a dedicated link that is prominently displayed on the board's home page, or by a separate easily identifiable internet address.” The website shall include, at a minimum, the following data elements, separated by therapeutic category: (a) Name of the product; (b) Whether the drug is a brand name or a generic; (c) Drug strength; (d) Per-unit wholesale acquisition cost of the drug; and (e) Any disclaimers deemed appropriate by the board.

With respect to the grant, the law states, “Implementation of this Section shall be contingent upon the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy's obtaining grant funds from private entities for the development, implementation, operation, and continued maintenance of the drug pricing disclosure website.” It is also mandated that the “board shall actively seek grant funding to implement the provisions of this Section. Within ten months of successful receipt of grant funds sufficient in amount to implement the provisions of this Section, the board shall make the drug pricing disclosure website available to prescribers.”

We were unable to find any news as to the success of the finding of the grant funding. The bill became effective June 14, 2017.

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