Stories and stats from Oregon’s Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program
Salem – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released its first report to the Legislature on prescription drug prices in Oregon. The program is the first in the United States to gather and publicly disclose comprehensive data about prescription drugs.
Before the report was finalized, a public hearing was held in November where Oregonians shared stories of how the cost of drugs affects their lives.
One story came from a nurse who helps patients with diabetes:
“I often found my patients would simply go without their diabetes medications because they could not afford them. We had a pharmacy at our safety net clinic that could provide lower cost medications, but even with our lower prices, many patients could not afford insulin and other diabetes medications.”
Another was from an Oregonian who cannot retire because of the cost of prescriptions:
“My spouse needs to take Eliquis, 5 milligrams, twice-a-day. A 90-day supply costs $1,343. Again, why so much? My spouse has nine different prescriptions that have to be taken. Another costs $400 for a 30-day supply. My spouse is retired, and Social Security is only $1,200 a month. I continue to work to receive insurance benefits to cover those drug costs. I cannot retire until my spouse dies; I can’t afford to.”
“The stories we received were heartbreaking, emotional, and insightful,” said Andrew Stolfi, Oregon insurance commissioner. “The data taught us a lot, and the consumer stories confirmed exactly why this program matters for all Oregonians.”
The report reveals several findings and provides recommendations for legislative changes to reduce the effect of rising prescription drug costs.
- U.S. prices are typically five times more than the highest price globally for prescription drugs reported to the program. For example, the median price for cardiovascular drugs reported to the program was $580, while the majority of prices in other countries ranged from $5 to $164.
- Most of the annual price increases reported to the program range from the reporting minimum of 10 percent to approximately 20 percent. Manufacturers attribute these increases to rebates, the use of co-pay assistance programs, obligations to shareholders, research and development costs, and other related factors.
The program will continue to build upon the information received in the first year to improve the program for the future and to continue to understand the effect of drug prices and costs. As more information is received, the program will engage in analyses to inform policies to reduce the cost of prescription drugs to Oregonians.
- Patient assistance reporting for new prescription drug reports – New drug reports currently do not include any patient assistance information, despite several new drugs coming to market with patient assistance.
- Transparency across the pharmaceutical supply chain – The price of a prescription drug is influenced by several factors, including the interactions and financial negotiations between pharmaceutical supply chain entities. These entities can influence the price paid at the pharmacy counter, the cost of health insurance premiums, and how prescription drugs contribute to overall health care costs.
All Oregonians can access the report and view the public hearing by visiting the program’s website.
All Oregonians are encouraged to report an increase in the cost of their prescription drugs or share their story one of four ways:
For more information, visit dfr.oregon.gov/drugtransparency.
- Email Rx.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 833-210-4560 (toll-free)
- Online consumer price increase report
- Share your prescription drug price increase story
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John Gear is a Salem attorney.