The bill requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose reasons for steep increases in the price of prescription drugs.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - Gov. Kate Brown has signed a bill into law that calls for more transparency in presciption drug pricing.Gov. Kate Brown has signed into law a bill that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to publicly disclose reasons for steep increases in drug prices.

Several other states, including California, have taken similar measures as the prices of drugs have skyrocketed without an apparent reason.

House Bill 4005 won bipartisan sponsorship and overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

"Every Oregonian should be able to access the medications and treatments that allow them to live healthy, productive lives," Brown said in a statement Tuesday. "This bill brings greater transparency around drug pricing, an important step towards making life-saving and essential drugs more available and affordable."

When the price of a prescription drug increases greater than 10 percent, the bill requires the manufacturer to report the reasons to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, including information related to the cost of production, advertising, marketing and research. The manufacturer also must disclose their profits from the drug and whether generic alternatives are available. Manufacturers face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day for noncompliance.

The deadline for the first report is July 1, 2019.

Under the new law, the consumer services department is required to publicly post a list of the drugs that have had high price increases, hold annual public meetings about prescription drug prices and make recommendations to the state Legislature for additional measures to curb drug prices.

Insurance companies also are required to report the 25 most expensive prescription drugs in their plans, which ones have increased the most and how those costs affect premiums.

With federal inaction on drug prices, several other states have enacted laws to monitor drug prices and enhance transparency around pricing. Among them are California, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Vermont, according to a report by the Washington Post.

About a dozen other state legislatures are considering or debating variations of drug transparency measures, according to a Feb. 28 report by Policy and Medicine.

Between 2013 and 2015, national spending on prescription drugs increased by about 20 percent and accounted for an estimated 17 percent of health care spending, according to researched published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Unlike most industrial countries, the United States does not negotiate the price of prescription drugs with manufacturers. As a result, Americans pay more for most drugs.

"Too many people in our community are making hard choices between paying for medications or food and rent," said Vida resident Nancy Plemons, a patient who testified in support of the Oregon bill. "Patients like me appreciate the support of Governor Brown and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who worked so hard to get this bill passed for Oregonians who are grappling with the ever -increasing price of prescription drugs."

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinnville, Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, and Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield.

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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