Everyone supports containing skyrocketing prescription drug prices but HB 4900, sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), would actually just make the problem worse for Illinois patients. Price gouging– targeted by this bill – is unacceptable. But we must employ sound public policy to both weed out bad apples and enhance a market where they cannot take seed. HB 4900 fails to do either.
HB 4900’s flaws are manifest. It is based on a law that was passed last year in Maryland but was just found unconstitutional by the courts. In fact, Maryland never received any patient complaints about generic medicines prices and never took any action in the six months between the law taking effect and it being found unconstitutional.
Pharmaceutical sales tracking firm IQVIA tells us that generic medicines fill 9 out of every 10 prescriptions in the U.S. These generics account for only 23 percent of all spending on prescription drugs. How are these savings accomplished? Ninety percent of generic prescriptions are filled with a copay for less than $20 and average $5.47 out of pocket for patients.
A multi-day prescription for generic life-saving or life-sustaining medicine is available to most patients in Illinois for about $1 more than they pay for one Starbucks Venti latte.
In its overzealousness to target gouging, HB 4900 will place price controls on generic medications by penalizing a drugmaker for taking a price increase that could be only a few pennies. An average dose of a generic medicine sells for 10 cents.
HB 4900 could initiate a state investigation of a 30% price increase to 13 cents. HB 4900’s language forces generic drug companies to consider if the risks of arbitrary government lawsuits warrant exiting the Illinois market altogether. Fewer medicines means reduced patient choice and increased prescription drug costs for Illinois taxpayers.
Why in these times of skyrocketing health care costs would Illinois consider legislation that jeopardizes the one deflationary sector that is helping patients and state programs? According to IQVIA, generic medicines saved Illinois – patients and state programs combined – almost $10 billion in 2016. The state Medicare program saved $2.8 billion and the Medicaid program realized $1.5 billion through utilizing generic medicines.
HB 4900 is bad medicine for Illinois. Vote no.