CARSON CITY — A proposal aiming to force pharmaceutical companies to disclose how they set insulin prices cleared its first hurdle at the Nevada Legislature on Wednesday, without a provision that sought a price cap on insulin.
The Democratic bill backed by a coalition of casino owners and casino workers’ unions would mandate that drugmakers annually disclose insulin list prices, manufacturing costs, research investments and profits.
Pharmaceutical companies would also have to notify the state 90 days before making any changes to insulin prices.
Supporters claim disclosure would prompt manufacturers to lower prices, but market experts say transparency alone won’t lower patient costs.
“We as policymakers can enact laws based on where we see problems in the system if we have that data,” bill sponsor Sen. Yvanna Cancela said. “So I’m confident that, while this may not directly have a provision that gets money back in the hands of consumers, it does give us the tools to make decisions about drug costs.”
Members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-1 to send Senate Bill 265 to a finance committee.
Republican lawmakers argued that the bill seeking the nation’s strictest drug-price disclosure rules does not go far enough.
Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, and Minority Leader Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said they want to make public the discounts drugmakers give insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and wholesalers.
Similar to a national campaign the American Diabetes Association launched last year, Nevada Republicans are calling for transparency on every level of the market, including the gap between the middleman’s price for insulin and what a consumer pays for the same product.
Cancela, D-Las Vegas, said she would be open to amendments, but she questions their motives.
“I am not interested in what I think could be stall tactics. I really want to get good policy done,” Cancela said after the vote, noting there are just 33 days left in the biennial legislative session.
There are limits to the disclosure provisions she would be willing to carry, though.
Insurance companies, Cancela said, “have much more transparency than almost any other health care entity, so I am not interested in including insurance companies in the bill.”
Insurers have been some of the bill’s most vocal supporters.
The vote was scheduled after proponents abandoned the provision to require insulin makers to issue refunds to insurance companies and people who purchase insulin if annual price hikes surpass inflation.
Legislative attorneys warned Cancela the refunds could violate federal patent and interstate commerce laws.
Insulin prices have drastically increased threefold from 2002-2013, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.