Without accounting for the critical role generic drugs play in reducing health care costs, SB17 would lead to increased prescription prices and limited access for patients
SACRAMENTO, CA (August 22, 2017) – While Californians share the rest of the country’s concern about rising health care costs, they are not willing to support proposed pricing legislation in the state because it will lead to increases in the cost of generic drugs, disproportionally affect the most vulnerable patients, and could limit patients’ access to generic medications.
The Association for Accessible Medicines examined the public’s views of Senate Bill 17, a proposal before the California State Assembly that would require drug makers to give prior notice before even modest dollar price increases, among other new regulations.
The poll’s results found that a vast majority – 66 percent – are unwilling to support the legislation, primarily because it will harm patients, especially the elderly and low-income, who rely on low-cost generic prescription medications. The poll was conducted by Market Probe, a global market research company, earlier this month and sampled over 1,000 California residents. “Generic drugs have been lowering health care costs in California for decades. In fact, generics make up 89 percent of all prescriptions administered, yet account for only 26 percent of total drug costs,” said Carrie Hartgen, Vice President, State Government Affairs at the Association for Accessible Medicines. “We all want to find ways to reduce the financial burden of health care, but SB17 will likely increase that burden on the millions of Californians whose health and wellness relies on low-cost generic prescription drugs.”
SB17 would require drug makers to provide a 60-day notice for price increases over 10 percent, among other regulations. As it is written, the policy aims at branded drug makers, and does not take into consideration the unique pricing structures and market dynamics that shape the generics drug industry. Because generic drugs are sold by multiple companies, often at pennies per pill, the generic market generates competition, and massive savings to patients compared to brand prices. Brand drug manufactures, on the other hand, have monopolies on their products and can set and increase their prices as they wish.
For example, relying on percentage price increase policies, as SB 17 does, will place disproportionate burdens on the generics industry, ultimately chilling competition and reducing savings for patients and the state.
“According to multiple market place dynamics and analyst reports, the generic pharmaceutical sector is already facing enormous business challenges that undermine the industry’s ability to continue delivering the historical level of savings to date. The fundamental premise and operational impact of SB 17 will only make this worse,” Hartgen said.
For their part, Californians clearly recognize that generics are not part of the problem. The poll found that 78 percent feel the costs of generic drug are reasonable, but only 19 percent felt the same about brand medications.
“Despite the perception that consumers support this legislation, voters are rightfully concerned about how it will impact their healthcare – and their wallet,” Hartgen said. “Any new requirements must protect the ability of generics to effectively compete in the marketplace and continue to drive down health care costs in California.”
The generic drug industry saved California $21.7 billion in 2016 alone, according to the 2017 Generic Drug Savings & Access in the United States report compiled by the QuintilesIMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Those savings included $4 billion for the state’s Medicaid program and $9.7 billion for people who are commercially insured.
Plus, generic prices have gone down more than 60 percent since 2008, according to the Express Scripts 2016 Drug Trend Report. By comparison, brand prices have increased by more than 50 percent in the same period, the report found.
Media Contact: Kevin Owens, 312-755-3512
About the Association for Accessible Medicines
AAM is driven by the belief that access to safe, quality, effective medicine has a tremendous impact on a person’s life and the world around them. Generic and biosimilar medicines improve people’s lives, improving society and the economy in turn. AAM represents the manufacturers and distributors of finished generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, manufacturers and distributors of bulk pharmaceutical chemicals, and suppliers of other goods and services to the generic industry. Generic pharmaceuticals are 89 percent of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 27 percent of total drug spending. Additional information is available at www.accessiblemeds.org.