Prescription drug expenditures are nearly 20 percent of health care costs and growing faster than any other part of the health care dollar. Four of the top 10 prescription drugs in the United States have increased in price by more than 100 percent since 2011. Brand name drug prices are increasing more than twice as fast as inflation. Nearly one in three adults in 2018 reported cutting a dose in half or even refraining from taking the medicine they need due to costs.
Certain groups are more likely to report difficulty affording medication, including those who are spending $100 or more a month on their prescriptions (58 percent), those who report being in fair or poor health (49 percent), those who take four or more prescription drugs (35 percent), and those with incomes less than $40,000 annually (35 percent).
West Virginia took a first step in 2020 to address high prescription drug costs for West Virginia families by passing the “Requiring Accountable Pharmaceutical Transparency, Oversight, and Reporting Act,” which requires drug manufacturers and health benefit plan issuers who sell prescription drugs in West Virginia to provide cost information, changes in cost information, and prescription drug statistics to the State Auditor who will publish the data on a public website. In addition, a bipartisan group of legislators worked together to pass a private insurance insulin copay cap of $100 per month.
West Virginia now should move forward to provide refunds to consumers for unjustified high prescription drug price increases in West Virginia. If a prescription drug manufacturer sells a drug with an unsupported and very high price increase in West Virginia, the state will force the manufacturer to pay a refund to the state and West Virginia consumers.
West Virginia also should also move forward to protect consumers from high prices for insulin-related equipment, supplies and non-insulin drugs that help control blood sugar or increase the effectiveness of insulin.