Tester bill looks to deter drug-price increases through transparency

A new bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester on Wednesday looks to lower prescription drug costs for Montanans by bringing more transparency to the pharmaceutical industry.

The measure, Stopping the Pharmaceutical Industry from Keeping Drugs Expensive Act, or SPIKE, would force prescription drug companies to publicly disclose detailed information about a significant price increase on any prescription drug.

Tester said pharmaceutical companies are currently not required to release any information to the public after excessively raising the price of a life-saving medication.

“Montanans are forced to pay too much money for prescription drugs because pharmaceutical companies are hiding the real cost of drugs in the dark,” Tester said. “This bill will hold these big corporations accountable and shed light on their decision to raise prices on life-saving medication.”

As written, the SPIKE Act would require all pharmaceutical company to publicly disclose their justification for raising the price of a drug if one of two triggers are met.

Tester said the first trigger is met if the drug costs at least $10 per dose and its price increases 300 percent over five years, or 100 percent over one year. The second trigger is met if the drug is in the top half of the most expensive drugs for Medicare or Medicaid and its price increases 50 percent over five years, or 15 percent over one year.

If a pharmaceutical company hits a trigger, Tester added, it would have to publicly report a number of details, including the price paid for the materials and the cost of manufacturing the drug, as well as the price paid to patent and license the drug.

The company would also be required to unveil the cost of buying the drug from another company, and publicly report all revenue and profits generated by the drug after approval.

If a company refuses to publish this information, Tester said, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department will fine the drug maker $100,000 for every violation.

“Earlier this year, Tester reached out to President Trump and offered to work together to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Tester spokesperson Marnee Banks. “Despite never receiving a response from the Trump administration, Tester’s offer still stands.”