Since the Supreme Court confirmed the regulatory autonomy of states in late 2020, state houses across the country have taken a closer look at the “middlemen” of the drug supply chain. These “middlemen,” known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), are largely responsible for the higher prescription drug costs that are plaguing the Centennial State. In 2018, residents dished out $4 billion for prescriptions — an increase of more than $300 million compared to just two years prior.
Colorado is among the group of states targeting PBMs as a strategy to tame out-of-control drug costs. In September, Gov. Jared Polis signed HB 1297 into law, which imposes new regulations on the middlemen. Among the provisions, the legislation begins to illuminate clandestine PBM activities and limits their ability to restrict access to medications for patients, as well as their ability to levy unreasonable fees on independent pharmacies.
The action is clearly a move in the right direction, but much work remains.
Rising prescription drug prices is a major problem afflicting the U.S. healthcare system, saddling patients and families with unreasonable costs. Fortunately, Colorado has already taken steps to partially relieve the cost pressure. State lawmakers should use the momentum to fuel additional actions that specifically address the unethical middlemen schemes that are unfairly and artificially jacking up drug prices.
Read the full-op-ed in Colorado Politics by Kelly Victory, M.D., the president of Victory Health and a member of the Job Creators Network.